Amazon can no longer offer free shipping for books in France, so it’s charging a single penny.

The token charge is Amazon’s retaliation against a new French law, enacted Thursday, that bars online booksellers from discounting their titles or offering free deliveries for book orders.

Nicknamed the anti-Amazon law, the measure is designed to protect France’s local bookstores, which face intense competition from larger chains and online retailers. French culture minister Aurélie Filippetti called the legislation “a sign of the deep commitment of the nation to books.”

Since 1981, France has banned booksellers from discounting the cover price of new books more than 5%, an effort to discourage price wars between large retail chains and their smaller rivals. Now Amazon and other online retailers can’t even implement that modest discounts on books.

Amazon’s French site explains the ramifications of the new law and the company’s reaction on its “frequently asked questions” page.

Because of the new law, “we are unfortunately not allowed to offer a 5% discount on the price of books,” Amazon France explains.

“We have therefore fixed delivery costs at one centime per order containing books and dispatched by Amazon to systematically guarantee the lowest price for your book orders.”


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