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French MPs vote to protect bookshops from Amazon

Reza Estakhrian / Getty images

French MPs on Thursday unanimously approved a bill designed to help small bookstores compete with giant online retailers such as Amazon.


It seeks to restrict Amazon and other such retailers from combining free delivery with discounts of up to five percent on books, the maximum allowed under existing French legislation.

In 1981, in a bid to protect small bookshops, the government ruled that editors must set a unique selling price for their books but added that shops could apply a discount of up to five percent.

The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration.

While the measure is not specifically aimed at Amazon but at all retailers dispatching books by post, Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti has singled out the US giant's practices in the past, blasting both free deliveries and the firm's tax arrangements.

The online retailer reports its European sales through a Luxembourg-based holding company, taking advantage of the tiny Duchy's relatively low corporation tax rates for earnings outside its borders.

Amazon insists the arrangement, which has been criticised by politicians across Europe, is legal under the European Union's single market rules.

During the parliamentary debate preceding the vote on Thursday, Filippetti blasted Amazon for its "dumping strategy" and for selling books at a loss.

"Once they are in a dominant position and have crushed our network of bookshops, they will bring prices back up," she said.

The French government has recently been at loggerheads with a number of American companies including Google, Yahoo! and Apple.

Last week, for instance, the country's data protection watchdog announced it would take action against Google for failing to comply with national privacy guidelines, a process that could see the US giant fined 150,000 euros




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