French sophistication-especially of the economic kind-never ceases to amaze. Ars Technica is reporting that a French court has ruled that Amazon's policy of shipping books for "free" is against the law. To wit:
Did you hear the one about Amazon? It offered free shipping in France, got sued for it by the French Booksellers' Union, and lost. Now it's choosing to pay €1,000 a day rather than follow the court's order. Ba-da-bing!
No, it's not funny, but that's because it's not a joke. The Tribunal de Grande Instance (a French appeals court) in Versailles ruled back in December that Amazon was violating the country's 1981 Lang law with its free shipping offer. That law forbids booksellers from offering discounts of more than 5 percent off the list price, and Amazon was found to be exceeding that discount when the free shipping was factored in.
Opponents of economist Steve Landsburg might hail this French court decision and the law it enforces as a way to guarantee bookselling jobs and higher book prices for all. Vive la France!
Whole Ars Technica article here.
Disclosure: I have taken advantage of Amazon's free shipping numerous times and I will again.
Props to Veronique for the item.