France sets minimum delivery charges for online book orders

Books are displayed on a table in the bookstore “La Librairie du Canal” in Paris, as French lawmakers pass a bill to prevent Amazon from delivering books for free and to protect traditional bookstores from competition, France, Oct. 21, 2021. REUTERS / Sarah Meyssonnier

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PARIS, Sept. 23 (Reuters) – France plans to impose a minimum delivery fee of 3 euros ($2.93) on online book orders under 35 euros to level the playing field for independent bookstores vying for to compete with e-commerce giants, the government said Friday.

A French law from 2014 already prohibits free delivery of books, but Amazon (AMZN.O) and other suppliers such as Fnac (FNAC.PA) have circumvented this by charging only 1 cent per delivery. Local bookstores usually charge up to 7 euros to ship a book.

Legislation was passed in December 2021 to close the one-cent loophole through a minimum shipping fee, but the law could not come into effect until the government decided on the amount of that fee.

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“This will adapt the book industry to the digital age by rebalancing major e-commerce platforms, which deliver books virtually for free regardless of order size, and bookstores that cannot match these delivery prices,” said the Culture and Finance ministries. in a joint statement.

They added that France will notify the European Commission of its plan and that the minimum delivery charges will come into effect six months after approval by the EU.

($1 = 1,0241 euros)

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Report by Elizabeth Pineau Writing by Geert De Clercq Editing by Alex Richardson and David Goodman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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