France sets minimum delivery fee for online book orders

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PARIS, Sept 23 (Reuters) – France plans to impose a minimum delivery fee of 3 euros ($2.93) for online book orders of less than 35 euros to level the playing field for independent bookstores struggling to compete against e-commerce giants, the government said on Friday.

A 2014 French law already prohibits free book deliveries, but Amazon and other vendors such as Fnac have circumvented this by charging only 1 euro cent per delivery. Local book stores typically charge up to 7 euros for shipping a book.

Legislation was passed in December 2021 to close the one-cent loophole through a minimum shipping fee, but the law could not take effect until the government had decided on the size of that fee.

“This will adapt the book industry to the digital era by restoring an equilibrium between large e-commerce platforms, which offer virtually free delivery for books whatever the order size, and bookstores that cannot match these delivery prices,” the culture and finance ministries said in a joint statement.

They added that France will notify the European Commission of its plan and the minimum delivery fee will take effect six months after the EU grants approval.

($1 = 1.0241 euros)

(Reporting by Elizabeth PineauWriting by Geert De Clercq Editing by Alex Richardson and David Goodman)

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