The government has chosen a happy medium between e-commerce giants and booksellers on the issue of minimum postage for books. The amount withheld is 3 euros for orders of up to 35 euros, announced the office of the Minister of Culture on Thursday, September 22.
This price is the one recommended by the postal regulator, the Authority for the Regulation of Electronic Communications, Post Office and Press Distribution (Arcep), when launching a public consultation on the subject.
Shipping costs for books can no longer be zero since a 2014 law, but Amazon and Fnac systematically set them at 0.01 euros.
Beyond 35 euros, the ministry has decided to maintain the status quo, with a floor of 0.01 euros. The government’s decision still needs to be sent to the European Commission, which will issue an opinion before the law comes into force.
A law adopted in December 2021 aimed to increase the minimum price to encourage consumers to go to bookstores instead of ordering online. The legislator has left it up to the executive to set the amounts.
Booksellers’ defense against “virtually free”
During the public consultation of Arcep, Amazon said that it was in favor of an amount of 1.49 euros, that is, the price “books and pamphlets” for a book between 250 and 500 grams to the European Union, United Kingdom or Switzerland.
Booksellers argued against what they called “virtually free”, advocating a minimum of 4.50 euros, or even more. In the book market, France stands out for having been the first country in the world, in 1981, to pass a law that imposes a single price on new books, among other measures to guarantee the sustainability of bookshops.
According to the Syndicat de la Librairie Française, this has allowed the maintenance of one of the densest networks of independent bookshops in the world, with 3,500 of them selling “nearly one in two books”.