France passes "anti-Amazon" bill aimed at helping small bookstores

Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti also called out Amazon's "dumping strategy"

Published June 27, 2014 6:11PM (EDT)

                  (AP/Ben Margot)
(AP/Ben Margot)

French lawmakers passed a bill on Thursday with the goal of helping small bookstores.

The bill prohibits large online companies -- including Amazon -- from offering free delivery on discounted books. The law has been unofficially deemed the "anti-Amazon" law, though it does not specifically target the tech giant.

This new law has roots in the "Lang Law," which was passed back in 1981. As part of that law the French minister of culture established a fixed price on books in order to aid independent bookstores competing with giant retailers, reports TechCruch. Similar laws then cropped up all over Europe -- including in Italy, Portugal, Spain and Germany.

A discount of up to 5 percent on books was allowed in the 1981 law. Online retailers have jumped on this discount, doling it out more consistently, and adding additional free shipping to sweeten the deal. Other tactics also gave Amazon an edge. TechCrunch also reports: "As Amazon bills from Luxemburg where sales tax is very low, this model was sustainable and allowed the company to gain market share."

To level the playing field and help France's 3,500 bookstores -- 600 to 800 of which are independently owned -- France's Parliament added the additional amendment to the "Lang Law."

According to Raw Story, France is particularly proud of its network of bookstores, calling them “unique in the world.”

Though the bill wasn't specifically aimed at Amazon, in the past, France's Minister of Culture Aurelie Filippetti, has criticized Amazon's business practices, "dumping strategy" and policy of selling books at a loss.

Filippetti signaled her approval of the new amendment saying it showed “the nation’s deep attachment to books.”

h/t Raw Story, TechCrunch

By Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email

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