The French government has announced it will introduce a minimum charge for book deliveries of €3 (about $2.92) in order to help small booksellers compete with retailing giant Amazon, reports Reuters. The minimum fee will only apply to orders under €35 (about $34.12).
It’s the latest measure by the French government to balance competition in the book sector and follows a decades-long tradition of protectionist laws. Since 1981, France has mandated fixed prices for books, with a maximum discount of 5 percent, and in 2010 expanded this law to cover ebooks. In 2014, the French government banned the free deliveries of books, to which Amazon responded by charging customers a single cent (€0.01) for delivery.
In an effort to close this loophole, the government agreed last year to introduce a minimum delivery fee but had not decided on a price until this week. According to Reuters, France now needs to notify the EU of its plans and can introduce the minimum fee six months after the European Commission approves them.
“This will adapt the book industry to the digital era by restoring an equilibrium between large e-commerce platforms, which offer virtually free delivery for books whatever the order size, and bookstores that cannot match these delivery prices,” said France’s culture and finance ministries in a joint statement (translation via Reuters). “The three euro delivery fee [...] is not dissuasive for book buyers and the 35 euro threshold will favour grouped orders, which is virtuous in environmental terms.”