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Reader question: Is the French government really forcing Amazon to raise its prices?

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Reader question: Is the French government really forcing Amazon to raise its prices?
An employee prepares a package for shipment at an Amazon logistics centre (Photo by Ronny Hartmann / AFP)

Did you receive a recent email from Amazon informing you book delivery prices are going up? Here's why.


Amazon customers in France may have received an email informing them that additional fees will be added to future orders.

The email states that starting October 7th, new rules for new book delivery pricing will go into effect.

A sample of the email sent out by (Screenshot by Genevieve Mansfield)

This is not a scam. The change is thanks to a new French law - originally published in France's Journal Officiel in April - which is now coming into effect.


The law requires online providers to charge a minimum of €3 in delivery costs for book purchases of less than €35 in order to maintain fair competition with small, independent bookshops.

Previously, online retailers were charging as low as €0.01 for book delivery fees, while independent booksellers were forced to charge at least €7 to €9, according to reporting by Le Monde

READ MORE: Why are there so many bookshops in France?

The law affects anyone selling books online - but is primarily targeted at the online giants like Amazon, who use low delivery fees to attract customers. 

Amazon France wrote in their email that any customer who purchased a new book before October 7th will not see the additional fee added, even if the delivery is meant to be after October 7th.

The change will affect all Amazon customers, including Prime subscribers.

For new book purchases above €35, Amazon will retain the right to charge just €0.01 in delivery fees.

France's history with protecting booksellers

The French government first announced the intention to raise minimum prices for book deliveries in 2021, as part of the Darcos Act. In the years following, Amazon pushed back, eventually taking the matter to the Conseil d'État.

Frédéric Duval, the Managing Director of Amazon France, told French business journal Les Echos that the measure will "penalise readers, authors and reading in general".

He argued that keeping fees low online allows for people in rural areas to get books: "almost half of the books sold by Amazon in France are sent to small towns where there are often no bookshops."

Eventually, the French government was able to reach an agreement the the bookseller's union (Syndicat de la librairie française, or SLF) and Amazon to set the additional fee for delivering new books to €3. This is lower than the €4.50 requested by the SLF and higher than Amazon's suggestion of €1.49.


This is not the first time the French government has stepped in to regulate book prices and discounting. In 1981, the "Lang Law" first introduced a fixed price for new books in France, meaning you will pay the same amount regardless of where you shop, with stores able to offer no more than a 5 percent discount.

However, since the rise of internet giants, bookshops began to worry the law was being undermined. 

In response to these concerns, in 2014 French lawmakers voted to ban giants like Amazon from shipping books for free.


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