France to impose €3 delivery fee on book orders from Amazon

According to Reuters, France has begun plans to impose a minimum shipping fee of 3 euros for book orders on Amazon. This fee only applies to orders under 35 EUR. France already has a law that makes it illegal for retailers to offer books for free. However, retailers like Amazon have so far circumvented the law by charging 1 cent as a token delivery fee. The law, dating back to 2014, is backed by another piece of legislation passed in December 2021 that aims to close the one-cent delivery fee loophole. However, the law remains ineffective because it does not specify how much delivery fees should be, and current legislation aims to rectify that.

However, while this is done to help traditional bookstores have a better chance of surviving the onslaught from the online retail giant, they seem unimpressed by the new law claiming that the fees are still too low compared to around €7 they charge for shipping cost of books. The French Ministry of Culture further added that the three-euro fee includes all taxes and cannot be evaded through a loyalty program or by combining book orders with other purchases. However, for orders over 35 euros, a 1 cent shipping fee can still be charged, the ministry said.

“The €3 delivery fee…is not persuasive for book buyers, while the €35 threshold would be beneficial for collective orders, which would be environmentally beneficial,” the ministries said.

Amazon did not immediately respond to the development, but said a company spokesman said it could become a major inflation driver and could also affect readers in remote areas. However, bookstores have another factor in their favor — a 1981 law made it illegal to offer discounts on new books. However, the e-commerce giant has been using discounted delivery fees as a means to undercut bookstores on price. The French bookstore association SLF is calling on the government to reduce the cost of mailing books by mail.

Some 3,300 bookstores in France are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with big e-commerce players such as Amazon, Fnac and Leclerc. Of the roughly 435 million books sold in the country in 2019, about 20 percent were purchased through online sources. The bookstore worries that the trend of buying books online will only increase in the future and could jeopardize their business.

Leave a Comment