Monday, June 30, 2014

Round 5 of the Amazon vs Everybody Wars: Amazon vs France

Allons enfants de la Patrie, Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
The latest round in the Amazon vs Everybody wars is brought to you live from Paris...

Last week Germany began antitrust proceedings against Amazon. This week, France adopted a law that would prevent Amazon from undercutting bookstores by prohibiting free deliveries of discounted books.

France is, to my knowledge, the only nation that has taken such definitive steps to protect independent bookstores.

As writers, we should be following these skirmishes with bated breath. It is not just the publishing industry hanging in the balance.

Large media conglomerates have never worked in our favor, whether they offer favorable terms (at least for now), or not. Mega publishers and mega bookstores have already demonstrated what happens when publication and distribution are restricted to just a few giant corporations. In the long run, Amazon won't behave any better.

Vive la révolution!

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French lawmakers adopt 'anti-Amazon' bill

AFP, June 26, 2014

French lawmakers adopted a bill on Thursday that will prevent Amazon and other online giants from offering free deliveries of discounted books, in a bid to support the country's small bookshops.

The Senate gave its approval for the bill, which had already been unanimously backed in the lower house National Assembly, and it is expected to be signed into law by President Francois Hollande within the next two weeks.

The bill bans online giants such as Amazon from delivering books without charge, but still allows them to set discounts of up to five percent, the maximum allowed under existing French legislation.

In 1981 the government ruled that publishers must set a standard selling price for their books in a bid to protect small retailers and set a limit of five percent on any discount.

Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti welcomed the parliamentary approval, saying it showed "the nation's deep attachment to books."

While the measure adopted on Thursday is not specifically aimed at Amazon, Filippetti has singled out the US giant's practices in the past, attacking both free deliveries and the firm's tax arrangements.

The online retailer reports its European sales through a Luxembourg-based holding company, taking advantage of the duchy's relatively low corporate tax rates for earnings outside its borders.

Amazon insists the arrangement, which has been criticised by politicians across Europe, is legal under the European Union's single market rules.

Filippetti has also attacked Amazon for its "dumping strategy" and for selling books at a loss.
"Once they are in a dominant position and will have crushed our network of bookshops, they will bring prices back up," she said last year.

France is proud of a network of bookstores it says is "unique in the world" and crucial for culture to reach small towns.

The country has about 3,500 such stores—including 600 to 800 so-called independent retailers that do not belong to a publishing house, a chain or a supermarket—compared to just 1,000 in Britain.

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