Breaking News
Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+: Start 7 Day FREE Trial Register here
Investing Pro 0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

France moves to shield its book industry from Amazon

Stock MarketsOct 25, 2021 07:37AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
© Reuters. Sophie Fornairon, owner of "La Librairie du Canal" bookstore, poses during an interview with Reuters in her bookshop in Paris, as French lawmakers voted a draft bill aiming at stopping Amazon from offering free delivery for books and at protecting traditi

By Elizabeth Pineau

PARIS (Reuters) - Sophie Fornairon's independent bookshop has survived the rise of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) thanks to a French law that prohibits price discounting on new books, but she says the e-commerce giant's ability to undercut on shipping still skews the market against stores like hers.

Fornairon, who owns the Canal Bookstore in central Paris, now hopes that new legislation that would set a minimum price for book deliveries will even the contest further in the battle of neighbourhood stores against Amazon.

"It's a just return towards a level playing field," Fornairon, who employs four workers, said. "We're not at risk of closing down any time soon, but Amazon is a constant battle".

Amazon said the legislation, adopted by parliament but not yet enacted, would punish those in rural areas who cannot easily visit a bookstore and rely on delivery.

"Imposing a minimum shipping cost for books would weigh on the purchasing power of consumers," Amazon told Reuters in a statement.

That is an undesirable consequence government officials are wary of at a time President Emmanuel Macron administration is scrambling to head off growing discontent over rising energy prices six months from an election.

In the country of Victor Hugo and Simone de Beauvoir, where local bookshops are held with special affection -- they were deemed 'essential businesses' during latter COVID lockdowns -- the move is the latest by the state to shield national culture against big tech firms.

More than 20% of the 435 million books sold in France in 2019 were bought online and the market share of France's 3,300 independent bookstores has been slowly declining because of competition from online retailers like Amazon, Fnac and Leclerc.

Support from Macron helped push the legislation, which does not target Amazon by name, over the line. The minimum fee still has to be negotiated with the regulator.


French law prohibits free book deliveries but Amazon has circumvented this by charging a single centime (cent). Local book stores typically charge about 5-7 euros ($5.82-8.15) for shipping a book.

Amazon's pricing strategy had resulted in the growing market share of a single operator, the Ministry of Culture said.

"This law is necessary to regulate the distorted competition within online book sales and prevent the inevitable monopoly that will emerge if the status quo persists," the ministry told Reuters.

Centre-right Senator Laure Darcos, who drafted the law, decided upon the minimum delivery charge when she observed how bookstores maintained 70% of their business despite being forced to shut during early COVID lockdowns, because the government reimbursed the shipping fees.

"It showed what a brake on business the postage costs are for local bookstores," Darcos said.

Amazon had lobbied hard against the legislation, worried the French move might set a precedent, the senator said.

France's bookstores are concentrated in towns and cities. Amazon said online sales of books had enabled consumers to have equal access, regardless of where they lived.

Virtually-free delivery allowed book lovers in rural areas to buy books at the same price as someone who could walk into a bookstore -- precisely the spirit of the 1981 law, it said.

Asked when the legislation would be enacted, the Ministry of Culture declined to give a date, saying it was too early to say.

For Fornairon, the bookshop owner, the steady stream of U.S. tourists through her door were a constant reminder of the shield French legislation had already wrapped around stores likes hers.

"They say to me 'we didn't even know independent bookstores still existed'," she said.

($1 = 0.8593 euros)

France moves to shield its book industry from Amazon

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email