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France May Ban Free Amazon Book Delivery To Protect Brick-And-Mortar Shops

Lawmakers in France will review a draft law that would require a minimum rate for Amazon book deliveries in order to protect local bookshops, Politico reported.

The law would prevent Amazon from offering virtually free book deliveries, a key selling point for the company, to keep the industry competitive, Politico reported. The law will be reviewed by the National Assembly’s culture committee on Wednesday and has the support of French President Emmanuel Macron.

France has pursued additional efforts to increase the market power of local businesses against foreign tech firms, such as supporting press publishers against Google and Facebook, and backing TV broadcasters against Netflix, Politico reported.

“The objective is to reduce the distortion of competition between online players who can offer book deliveries at one cent, and the others,” Géraldine Bannier, a member of Parliament in Macron’s party, told Politico in an interview. Bannier is in charge of the bill in the lower house.

Amazon opposes the law and is lobbying against its passage, multiple French officials told Politico. French politicians have long sought to protect independent bookstores from the tech giant, with Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot calling for an Amazon boycott in November.

“It is a well-known fact that this operator’s strategy is to sacrifice its profitability in order to conquer the market through aggressive pricing policies. It compensates its losses by offering other services, which amounts to making the book a loss leader,” Bachelot said in June during debates in the Senate, Ouest-France reported.

The market share of French bookshops experienced a 3% decline between 2006 and 2019 due to the popularity of online retailers, and one out of every five bookshops in the country lost more than 10% in revenues in 2020 compared to the previous year, Politico reported.

Bookshops were eventually labeled as “essential businesses” in 2021 after they were forced to shut down during the country’s first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, Politico reported.

“Amazon is afraid that it will set a precedent,” Laure Darcos, a senator who initially drafted the bill, told Politico. “They want to be monopolistic on the online sales of book — I press where it hurts.”

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