Amazon finds a simple way to bypass a new French law

Last month, France parliament voted on a law that would support local businesses and effectively ban online retailers from delivering books to customers for free. Of course, this new law would have an huge effect on large online retailers like Amazon, who gain an advantage by offering low prices and free shipping. Perhaps, the only caveat at this point would be the wait time of three to five working days for delivery. Luckily, for the French, Amazon has introduced its new shipping cost of just € 0.01.

According to French law, book retailers are not allowed to discount their books more than five percent; this is meant to level the playing field and prevent larger chains from heavily discounting their merchandise in order to drive a competitor out of business. This law has been in effect since 1981.

Since this law applies to Amazon as well, their only previous means of evening the odds was discounting their shipping, and making it free for all book purchases. But, with a new law preventing this, Amazon had to make a choice. A month later, Amazon has cleverly sidestepped the situation by offering customers shipping for a € 0.01. This complies with the new law passed nearly a month ago, and still offers its customers the best possible deal in regards to books.

While it’s anyone’s guess how long this will last, France has had a long history of protecting its bookstores. The country boasts 3,500 bookshops with roughly 600 to 800 of them that are not part of a chain. France’s concerns about Amazon and other larger chains business practices are justified, citing that once the competition has been crushed, they will increase prices to their normal rates. 

Source: France24 

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The problem is though "local businesses" will soon die out.
There is no way to stop it because it's simply part of the digital age we now live in.

People (on the whole) want out of town shopping centres and big chains. Those that don't support their local stores, who are continuing to thrive in business.

It's cheaper / more convenient for me to sit on my fat bottom at home and order a book than have to get in the car, drive to the city, pay parking, probably spend in another shop on the way to the book shop only to find they don't have it in stock.

Sir Topham Hatt said,
The problem is though "local businesses" will soon die out.
The ones that should... will. That's a good thing as the capital and labor will be moved to a more efficient use.

this is kind of like the ban on multi purchases on alcohol in scotland. no more 3 for 2 deals.

so the supermarkets just discounted all the beer pack to equal to or less than the price individually bought beer packs to the former multi- pack deals. :/

Ah, almost like the USA with the ban the 100 watt incandescent bulbs.... ok we will now market them as 95 watt bulbs

neufuse said,
Ah, almost like the USA with the ban the 100 watt incandescent bulbs.... ok we will now market them as 95 watt bulbs


But what about the 99 Watt light bulb

warwagon said,


But what about the 99 Watt light bulb

the laws were BS anyways because a 100 watt bulb doesn't use 100 watts... it's just a label they used to average out to a clean number... most bulbs use about 10% less then their rated wattage for incandescants

its not about trying to curb competitiion. what the issue here is culture. The gov doesn't want US run companies destroying hundreds of years of rich history and culture in the fight over bottom line. selling books are not about bottom line. These small family run bookstores are about service and specialisation; Amazon's service is impersonal and honestly a bastardised form of the book market if you ask me. I want to go in, grab a nice coffee, have a chat and a read! So try to be understanding, its not all about money/capitalism

B0mberman said,
its not about trying to curb competitiion. what the issue here is culture. The gov doesn't want US run companies destroying hundreds of years of rich history and culture in the fight over bottom line. selling books are not about bottom line. These small family run bookstores are about service and specialisation; Amazon's service is impersonal and honestly a bastardised form of the book market if you ask me. I want to go in, grab a nice coffee, have a chat and a read! So try to be understanding, its not all about money/capitalism
So... physical books, sold from a storefront have more value than physical books sold from a website... cause history?

If France as a nation really cared all that much about all those bookstores, they'd be receiving enough business that Amazon's practices wouldn't matter.

If online sales are really at risk of dominating the market, it's because France, as a nation, is switching to it at accelerating rates. Why protect a market that people are happy to abandon?

It makes me laugh how being uncompetitive (artificially raising prices) is illegal for companies to do, but it's perfectly legal for a government to make it law.

They could make a law that would say books can only be discounted as much as the shipping cost is worth. That would really prevent Amazon from doing anything about it :p

They can't compete - they don't have Amazon's contracts, volume of sales and not to mention overhead costs of actually running a brick and mortar business. On the other hand they can compete on the level of customer service, ambiance and experience. World is changing though - (over)regulating to maintain the status quo is a lost war IMHO.

Or the brick and mortar stores could... you know... lower their prices! $30 for a hardcover novel. Even ten bucks for a paperback. Forget it.

COKid said,
Or the brick and mortar stores could... you know... lower their prices! $30 for a hardcover novel. Even ten bucks for a paperback. Forget it.

They can't lower their prices to the level Amazon can or one of the other big chains, prices go lower because of volumes, Amazon has the volume/bulk order ability to get copies of books for cheap amongst other things. That little book store in town would only buy 10 copies, they're not going to get any great deals from the publisher.

only option i see would be for those smaller book shops to create a co-op allowing htem to buy in bulk. still prob nowhere near, but a reasonable solution.

COKid said,
Or the brick and mortar stores could... you know... lower their prices! $30 for a hardcover novel. Even ten bucks for a paperback. Forget it.
Or they could go away. If people are choosing Amazon over them... it's not because Amazon has some mystical power over those customers.

COKid said,
Or the brick and mortar stores could... you know... lower their prices! $30 for a hardcover novel. Even ten bucks for a paperback. Forget it.

I wish. There's a pretty famous bookstore near where I live but their prices are outrageous. Their used books cost more than the new ones on Amazon...and if you try to sell your book back in anything but absolutely pristine, never opened, never read condition you'll get like 50c for it. Oh and they don't take back used hardcovers, ever.

Sorry I'll take Amazons prices, and customer service any day over that.

Promoting local business is good and all that, but these local businesses really need to step up with their technological competence. I certainly wouldn't go from store to store just to see what they have in stock.

These protectionist laws are stupid. All they do is keep obsolete business models on life support so they can stay open for a couple years longer than they would have otherwise and ultimately make the consumer suffer.

Silly Gov, should've set a specific minimum fee that they couldn't go under, if this was all about not allowing the big guys to undercut the little guys out of the market.

Why should the government tell amazon for how much they have to send those bloody books if they already have to pay ask for a specific prize of that book