I’m betting the Big Five publishers are wishing we were more like France right now. Reuters reports that France’s Socialist government is going to try to ban Amazon from offering both a 5% discount over publisher-set retail prices (the highest discount they are legally allowed to make over there) and free shipping on the same paper book.

France has laws that are specifically intended to prevent big companies from using their financial advantage to run roughshod over little companies in much the same way the publishers tried to do with agency pricing on e-books, and they’re taking aim at Amazon:

Guillaume Husson, spokesman for the SLF book retailers’ union, said Amazon’s practice of bundling a 5 percent discount with free delivery amounted to selling books at a loss, which was impossible for traditional book sellers of any size.

"Today, the competition is unfair… No other book retailer, whether a small or large book or even a chain, can allow itself to lose that much money," he said, referring to Amazon’s alleged losses on free delivery.

I guess it just goes to show, different strokes for different countries. Over here, we have legions of consumers who happily take advantage of the considerable discounts on paper books offered by Amazon, Wal-Mart, and others, and who feel that $10 is just about the right price for the e-book of a new hardcover bestseller, In Europe, they generally have strict pricing controls that mean consumers pay more because the law prevents them from paying less, protecting businesses at the expense of consumers’ wallets.

I know, as a consumer, which way I prefer. I’m surprised European consumers haven’t voted these anti-consumer governments out of power yet. Just a different mindset over there, I guess.


  1. The total lack of competition and fixed prices make books incredibly expensive in France. Count between 15 and 25€ for a brand new, just released book, not a hardback, you know. So, a new paperback book is priced between $20 and $30. To get the equivalent quality of a US or UK paperback, it’s even more expensive, more like $40 or $50. A total ripoff. “livre de poches” (pocket mass market paperbacks) are from 5 to 8 €.
    Then, they tell us that the french book industry is in a crisis.

    Let this damn industry die and be replaced with independent e-book writers.

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