PARIS Oct 3 French lawmakers on Thursday took
aim at Amazon to protect local bookshops by voting
through a law that bars online booksellers from offering free
delivery to customers on top of a maximum 5 percent discount on
The law is part of France's broader regulation of book
prices and curbs on discounting, which was passed in 1981 by the
Socialist government at the time to protect small bookshops from
In the past decade, online outlets have challenged physical
bookstores, prompting French publishers to lobby for a change in
the law to stop what they call Amazon's "dumping" and "unfair
According to a French parliamentary report, online book
sales rose to 13.1 percent of total book sales in 2011 from 3.2
percent in 2003. The country is still home to more bookstores
than most countries with 2,000-2,500 in a country of 65 million
people, compared with 1,000 in Britain, which has roughly the
"The (book pricing) law is part of our cultural heritage,"
said conservative lawmaker Christian Kert who sponsored the
France's lower chamber, with the support of the Socialist
government, passed the law unanimously. It will now go to the
Senate, which is expected to pass it by the end of the year.
For its part, Amazon said the law would have the perverse
effect of hurting sales of books from the back catalogue and
from smaller publishing houses, which were often bought online.
"All measures that aim to raise the price of books sold
online will curb the ability of French people to buy cultural
works and discriminates against those who buy online," it said.
The proposed law is only the latest example of France taking
aim at U.S.-based Internet giants.
Last week the country's data protection watchdog moved
closer to fining Google for the way it stores and
tracks user information after the search engine ignored a
three-month ultimatum to bring its practices in line with local
France has called on the European Union to regulate global
Internet companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook
more aggressively, to counter their growing dominance of online
commerce and services.
It is pushing within the OECD and G20 organisations to
tighten tax rules to make sure that Internet companies cannot
avoid tax by locating their headquarters in low-cost EU
countries. Amazon and Google are subject of ongoing tax audits