You see, France loves its independent bookshops as much as it loves Brie. They are considered as cultural emblems of which the populace are very proud. Some 3,000 of the stores have complained to French authorities that they can’t compete with the deals offered by the likes of Amazon (fair enough, just ask Borders).
The bill, penned by right-wing party UMP, has been approved by the lower house and will now be sent to the Senate for final approval. It’s not the first bill the French have passed to protect smaller retailers, in 1981 the government ruled that editors must set a selling price for their books (but added a clause that stores could apply a discount of up to 5%).
Although the new bill is not aimed directly at Amazon, it has been seen as a dig at the American retail bazaar, which has been criticised by the French for its tax arrangements. Amazon reports its European sales though Luxembourg, taking great advantage of the country’s rock bottom corporation tax.
The French culture minister, Aurelie Filippetti, doesn’t mince her words when it comes to expressing her feelings about the company.
‘Today, everyone has had enough of Amazon which, through dumping practices, smashes prices to penetrate markets only to then raise prices again once they are in a situation of quasi-monopoly,’ she blustered back in June.
‘The book and reading sector is facing competition from certain sites using every possible means to enter the French and European book market … it is destroying bookshops.’
Sacrebluegh. Amazon’s share price has dropped 1.43% this afternoon following the news of the bill.
Amazon isn’t the only tech giant the French government has been locking horns with recently. Last week its data protection watchdog announced it would take action against Google for failing to comply with national privacy guidelines. Saying that, there aren’t many countries not having a pop at Google about its laissez-faire attitude towards privacy.