French lawmakers approve bill preventing Amazon from offering free delivery of discounted books, in effort to help small bookstores compete with online retailers; measure moves to upper house Senate for consideration

PARIS , October 4, 2013 () – French MPs yesterday approved a bill that will prevent Amazon from offering free deliveries of discounted books.

The bill, designed to support small bookstores struggling in the face of giant online retailers, was backed unanimously in the lower house National Assembly.

It will seek to restrict the likes of Amazon from combining free delivery with discounts of up to 5 percent on books, the maximum allowed under existing French|legislation.

In 1981, the government ruled that editors must set a unique selling price for their books in a bid to protect small retailers, but added that stores could apply a discount of up to 5 percent.

The bill will now move to the upper house 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 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 EU's single market rules.

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

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

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