A new French law banning large online booksellers from offering free delivery only came into effect last week, but already Amazon has found a way to get around it. They are complying with the law’s ruling by removing the free delivery option from amazon.fr; instead they are only charging customers €0.01 for this service – thus keeping their competitive advantage.
France is a book-loving nation; no other country has as many small bookshops – there are about 3,500 of them compared to only 1,000 in the UK. The new law was created to protect these small businesses from online giants like Amazon and the French-owned FNAC, who are able to sell books at much lower prices than regular bookshops.
Industry experts are not surprised that Amazon has managed to undermine this new law. Amazon’s success is due to its commitment to providing the lowest prices anywhere – it’s also use to defending itself. By charging so little for delivery, Amazon will likely remain the cheapest option around – bad news for small book retailer who had hoped this new law would offer them some protection.
This is not the first time that French lawmaker have traded blows with large online book sellers. In 2011, an old law was updated (Lang Law) that required all merchants to sell books at the price determined by the publisher. The country has also gone up against giants like Google.
This new law is designed to make it less financially appealing for consumers to buy books online, but paying an extra €0.01 is unlikely to have much of an effect. The team at Amazon are no doubt pleased to have found a solution to this restriction so quickly.