The Government plans to raise the floor from 0.01 euros to 3 euros for book orders of up to 35 euros. The booksellers, who defended a minimum of 4.50 euros against giants like Amazon, do not hide their disappointment.
The French will soon have to pay €3 to have a book delivered to their home, whether they ordered it from Amazon, a major retailer’s business site, or from a bookstore. From theadoption end of 2021 by the Parliament of the Darcos law “aimed at improving the economy of the book and strengthening fairness among its players”, the Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire and the Minister of Culture Rima Abdul-Malak worked together with Arcep (Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications, Post and Press Distribution) in defining a minimum price for book deliveries in France. Whatever the sender.
The objective is to tackle the distortion of competition that exists between the giants of electronic commerce and independent booksellers. If the shipping costs for books could no longer be zero since a previous law dating from 2014, Amazon and Fnac had found a solution by systematically setting them at 1 euro cent. While it costs an average of 6 euros of shipping costs to the bookseller for the same shipment.
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After months of consultations with the various players and intense lobbying carried out by Amazon in particular, the executive finally decided on Friday. Between the Fnac and the big brands that advocated a floor price of 2 euros and the booksellers who defended a minimum delivery of 4.50 euros, the Government opted for a “fair price of 3 euros”. In a context of preserving the purchasing power of the French, the ministers resorted to “this fee is commonly applied for the delivery of other products“… However, for book orders over 35 euros, the Ministry of Culture has decided to maintain the status quo, with a floor of 1 euro cent.
This increase in the minimum price is intended, in particular, to encourage consumers to go to bookstores instead of ordering online. Its objective is to preserve the balance inherent in the 1981 Lang Law on the price of the single book, in the digital age. This law has allowed France to build a strong network of bookstores throughout the country.
After the announcement this Friday of the decision of the ministries, the booksellers do not hide their disappointment. “ Once again, the law will not achieve its objectives, since the level of loss of margins for bookstores that deliver, or would like to convert to delivery, remains too high “, explains Guillaume Husson, general delegate of the French bookstore union (SLF), which represents 600 bookshops of all sizes in the country. These professionals, who had been received just two days ago by Rima Abdul-Malak, hoped that the government would take a little more time to reflect.
As of now, the booksellers say they are determined to continue the battle. The SLF advocates that the Government support its demands with Correos to obtain a more advantageous shipping rate” allowing, combining them with the minimum thresholds, to finally make them competitive with respect to the large online platforms“.
The French government’s decision must still be transmitted to the European Commission, which will issue an opinion before the law can enter into force. Once Brussels has validated this minimum price of 3 euros, there is no guarantee that it will not be hijacked by the e-commerce giants. One more time.
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