updated 09:38 pm EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
French free delivery book ban circumvented with extremely-low Amazon delivery cost
Amazon is countering a law in France banning free shipping, by charging customers a single euro cent ($0.01) for orders. The law, put in place by the French government in an attempt to protect smaller bookstores from being squeezed out of the marketplace by the online retailer, is being circumvented by the technicality, with French lawmakers seemingly unable to hamper Amazon's sales efforts.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is also prevented from offering a five-percent discount on books by the law, something which the previous version of the same law permitted. Other companies in the country with a physical retail presence are exempt from the restrictions, with both the discount and free delivery able to be offered not only to in-store and phone orders, but also through their online stores.
French Amazon customers subscribing to Amazon Prime will not be affected by the penny delivery restriction, as they are paying for an annual subscription. Amazon is also able to appeal against the law through EU courts. According to Liberation, the actions of the French government is dimly viewed by European lawmakers, and could be acted upon in the future.
The aggressive sales tactics of Amazon in Europe has been found to be affecting more than other retailers on the continent. Last month, smaller publishers in the United Kingdom alleged that Amazon wanted to update book-selling agreements, with proposals including a ceiling on the digital list price of e-books, pricing restrictions on publishers selling books directly to customers, and the option for Amazon to print its own books if stock is not immediately available. Representatives of publishers claim the retailer has become "increasingly ruthless" in negotiations, putting some publishers under "heavy pressure," and with one publisher calling Amazon's actions a form of "bullying."