Virtually free delivery of books in France is almost over. The French government has decided to support booksellers by imposing delivery charges on e-commerce giants such as Amazon.
Last October, the National Assembly had voted by a large majority to adopt a law aimed at defining a floor price for the delivery of books. This new proposal aimed to support booksellers, who were suffering from deployable competition from giants like Amazon, the latter asking most of the time only €0.01 to send a book to its recipient.
The Senate then adopted the bill at the end of November. After several months of waiting, the French government announced on Friday that it approved the proposal of the regulatory authority for electronic communications, posts and press distribution (ARCEP) toimpose a delivery charge of 3 euros for books when the order is less than 35 euros.
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The delivery of books in France will no longer be almost free
While Amazon or Fnac have only asked 1 cent for delivery so far, most booksellers set a price of around 7 euros for the same service. The competition was therefore largely unfair, but that will soon change. France will notify its plan to the European Commission and the minimum delivery costs will take effect six months after EU approval.
The Ministry of Culture said the three euro delivery charge for orders under 35 euros, which includes taxes, could not be circumvented through customer loyalty programs or bundled purchases of books with other items. However, for all orders over 35 euros, it will always be possible for the e-commerce giants to offer a delivery charge of one cent.
For its part, Amazon obviously does not approve of this new law, which it considers a punishment for people in rural areas who cannot easily get to a bookstore and rely on delivery. The association which represents independent bookstores in France, declared that these measures were not sufficient and requested that postage be reduced for shipments of books from bookstores.