Amazon Trolls France's Anti-Competition Laws


Amazon has responded to France's newest book sale law by complying—well, technically.

The anti-Amazon bill, as it's known, requires the online retail giant to charge book buyers shipping fees for their online literature purchases. The company announced on its French website that it will indeed follow the letter of the law by setting its shipping costs to customers "to the minimum permitted by law." Book lovers in France will be charged a whopping .01 euros per shipment of books—a penny per order.

The ban on free shipping was passed last year by France's ruling Socialist Party, but only recently went into effect. The new rule is actually an amendment to a 32-year-old French law that tightly regulates book prices.

The new requirement applies to all online book retailers but has been called the anti-Amazon bill because Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti has singled out the company in the past.

In January 2004, the French Booksellers Union took Amazon to court for offering free delivery and the high court in Versailles ruled in the union's favor. The court told Amazon to either starts charging shipping or face a daily fine of 1,000 euros. Amazon stuck it to the union and decided to incur the fine rather than charge its French customers more.

And it looks like this tit-for-tat tango between the two will go on: Amazon is considering an appeal with the European Commission. 

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  1. You know who else charged 0.01 for a delivery?…

    1. Meijer – to ride the horse

  2. How long until France just abandons any pretense of the rule of law and punishes Amazon for not complying with the legislature’s intent?

    1. Why not just pass a law explicitly stating that entrenched interests shall not be harmed without permission?

      1. Didn’t the French candle-makers try this once?

  3. The trouble with France…is that it’s full of Scots!

    1. Dagless: The cabin crew suggested we all go out and club it. I had no option. It was that or one of their B&Bs;. I figured it’d be safer on the streets. For the first time ever I saw the Scotch in their natural habitat, and it weren’t pretty. I’d seen them huddling in stations before, being loud but…this time I was surrounded. Everywhere I went it felt like they were watching me; fish-white flesh puckered by the Highland breeze; tight eyes peering out for fresh meat; screechy, booze-soaked voices hollering out for a taxi to take ’em halfway up the road to the next all-night watering hole. A shatter of glass; a round of applause; a sixteen-year-old mother of three vomiting in an open sewer, bairns looking on, chewing on potato cakes. I ain’t never going back…not never.

      Sanchez: My aunt lives in Scotland; she says it’s quite nice.

      Dagless: Well, she’s wrong.

      1. When did you get back?

        1. Was he gone?

          1. Iceland and Germany. Probably doing something immoral and illegal.

            You didn’t notice how well everybody was getting along?

            1. Is that what Warty calls the East and West sides of his basement now?

              1. I always assumed he gave them child-themed names.

              2. “No. Those are names of regions in your mom’s cunt!”

                – Epi

            2. I just want to know if he went to the coordinates in Tiergarten I gave him.

      2. My wife just came back from Scotland with about a gallon (total) of single malt scotch. Bless her heart, she made sure to get the a variety (lowlands, Islay, etc.), and only those that are not for export.

        I’m a bourbon man, but goddamn that Ben Nevis is some fine scotch.

        If all Scotland contributed to the world was single malt, they would still deserve to live and prosper. Hope this makes sense; I’ve had quite a bit.

  4. French Booksellers Union (really? what a joke) took Amazon to court because French consumers freely chose to spend less of their money on their purchases. French socialists pass a law to punish Amazon for their success. Who’s really hurt? French consumers.

    This just shows you that socialists are not really for the people. Free markets are, though. Good for you Amazon!

    1. Dude, it wasn’t even that elided, in terms of intending to “punish Amazon for their success”. The explicit intent of the law is to make consumers pay more.

      Which makes Amazon’s middle finger to the French legislature even more glorious, IMO. 😀

      1. It won’t be long (if it hasn’t already happened), and the French will have an official committee to set acceptable shipping rates with approved shippers. Surely this will avoid dog-eat-dog competition and preserve French culture.

        1. You mean the anti-dog-eat-dog law? I think I’ve heard of that.

          1. But of course that’s just right-wing propaganda! Two-dimensional characters and plot devices!
            Who would ever think…..?

    2. When a French consumer tries to save money he is being selfish and not working for the good of the state. It is imperative that the people only have the opinions that the state gives them. Freedom only gets in the way of organization. /socialist

      Seriously, though, every socialist writer, philosopher, or leader eventually gets to the point of saying planning is more important than individual freedom.

    3. I was gonna comment about the French Booksellers Union as well. There is no more certain sign of a post-industrial society that is going to collapse under the weight of competition than having a union explicitly dedicated to that.

  5. This just shows you that socialists are not really for the people.

    Well, they’re for some people.

  6. In SF, the proggy gov’t banned free “Happy Meals”, ’cause kiddies!
    Micky D immediately complied. And started charging $0.10 for the toys and donating it to charity.
    And I laughed and laughed! and LAUGHED!!!

    1. Yes, but the gov angels accomplished their unspoken goal of marginally increasing the price of food for working-class families with small children.

      When they make their plan of the $50 happy meal a reality, they can finally get all those nasty poor people with fat children out of their city.

      1. IIRC, McD dropped the food price by the same amount.

        1. Eh, no. I googled and found no such story, just the ten cent toy price.

          1. I thought so too, but wasn’t willing to do the search first, so…

            1. I prefer self-humiliation to unwilling exposure. Wish statists felt the same.

  7. Funny, Amazon and France were on my mind because I had my first sale on today.

    There was no shipping though, because it was an eBook.

    On topic, when I read a BBC article about French writers whining about foreign books outperforming French literature, their attitude was “How dare the people not buy my ‘artistic’ endeavor and buy entertaining foreign works?” The attitude made me want to bludgeon them. I’m not surprised that they’re trying to rail against Amazon.

    1. …”French writers whining about foreign books outperforming French literature, their attitude was “How dare the people not buy my ‘artistic’ endeavor and buy entertaining foreign works?”…

      Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns were a result of Euro tastes in films and the ‘local content’ laws.
      I don’t think Clint left much of the money there.

  8. C’est, it ain’t so!

    1. Say paw.

  9. I’ll repeat what I said yesterday:

    Happy Bastille Day. In honor of Bastille Day, uniformed troops marched along the Champs Elysees. And like so many prior episodes of uniformed troops marching along the Champs Elysees, it occurred the day after a resounding German victory.

  10. 32-year-old French law that tightly regulates book prices

    This along with the French government’s regulation of the French language puts it at the top of my language death watch list.

  11. What are they trying to protect? Amazon’s best seller list in France is mostly translations from English, tawdry romance novels for lonely women, and self help books. As far as I can tell, there has been little decent French literature produced after WWII, and even in its heyday, it was likely a luxury good for an elite.

    1. France is the one major western country where fully half of the books sold are translations of foreign works rather than native language content. Going back to the article I mentioned above, the French authors were given extensive space to whine about how the public is too stupid to appreciate their pretentious works and won’t buy French literature.

      Yeah, right, it’s the public’s fault that French Authors can’t sell in France.

  12. You can read a bit more about it there : http://freeandwriting.blogspot…..n-law.html

  13. Ever since the online sales tax thing, I have mixed feelings about cheering for Amazon.

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