During a conference of bookstore owners in Bordeaux this week, Aurelie Filippetti, France’s Minister of Culture, renewed her fight against Amazon, who she says has killed the market by lowering prices and by introducing free shipping. As reported in LeMonde, Amazon has taken advantage of one French law which allows books to be discounted at 5% (in general, sales are quite regulated across Europe) which means that ‘nearly every book in Amazon’ has been discounted at 5% lower than any other competitor.
The attack against Amazon couldn’t come at a more relevant time, as Apple’s Tim Cook is being questioned by the US Government in connection to allegations of eBook price-rigging. In recent weeks, email exchanges have come out between Steve Jobs and one book publisher leading up to their launch into the eBook market, in which Jobs warns that Amazon’s low prices can’t hold, and will drive down the value perception of eBooks by consumers.
France, however, has another issue that it needs to come to terms with; namely, that it was them who enabled Amazon to come into France so heavily. Tax subsidized logistics offices popped up all over France in the past few years, virtually killing France’s biggest retailer FNAC, and sending Virgin France into bankruptcy.