The government plans to raise the floor from 0.01 euro to 3 euros for book orders of up to 35 euros. 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 euros to have a book delivered to their home, whether they ordered on Amazon, on the merchant site of a major retailer or from a bookstore. Since the adoption at the end of 2021 by Parliament of the Darcos law “aimed at improving the book economy and strengthening equity between its players”, the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire and the Minister of Culture Rima Abdul-Malak worked alongside Arcep (Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications, Posts and Press Distribution) on the definition of a floor price for book deliveries in France. Whoever the sender.
The objective is to tackle the distortion of competition that exists between the giants of e-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 in postage to the bookseller for the same shipment.
After months of consultation with the various protagonists, and intense lobbying operations carried out in particular by Amazon, the executive finally decided on Friday. Between Fnac and the big brands which 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 preservation of the purchasing power of the French, the ministers turned to “this tariff 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.
Disappointment on the side of booksellers
This increase in the floor price is intended in particular to encourage consumers to go to bookstores rather than order online. It aims to preserve the balance inherent in the 1981 Lang law on the single book price, in the digital age. This law has enabled France to build a solid network of bookstores throughout the territory.
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 union of the French bookstore (SLF), which represents 600 bookstores of all sizes in the country. These professionals, who had been received barely two days ago by Rima Abdul-Malak, hoped that the government would take a little more time to reflect.
From now on, booksellers say they are determined to continue the battle. The SLF pleads for the government to support its demands with the Post Office in order to obtain a more advantageous shipping rate “ allowing, by combining with the minimum thresholds, to finally make them competitive with regard to the major online platforms“.
The decision of the French government must still be transmitted to the European Commission, which will issue an opinion before the law can enter into force. Once this floor price of 3 euros has been validated by Brussels, there is no guarantee that it will not be hijacked by the e-commerce giants. One more time.
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