The French Government is planning to introducing a minimum delivery fee for online book orders to support independent bookshops in the country, as reported by Reuters. 

As part of this move, the government plans to impose a €3.00 ($2.90) fee for all online book orders worth less than €35 ($33.83).

France’s Culture and Finance ministries said in a joint statement: “This will adapt the book industry to the digital era by restoring an equilibrium between large e-commerce platforms, which offer virtually free delivery for books whatever the order size, and bookstores that cannot match these delivery prices.”

The proposal comes after e-commerce giant Amazon and other vendors such as Fnac had found a way to charge only €0.01 to ship books, compared with the €7 charged by local bookstores.

In response to this, the government passed legislation in December last year to close the one-cent loophole through a minimum shipping fee.

This law could only take effect when the government had decided on the minimum fee, which reportedly includes taxes.

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The government will notify the European Commission regarding the minimum delivery fee plan, which is expected to come into effect six months after receiving the European Union’s approval.

In addition, the ministries noted that customer loyalty programmes or joint purchases of books with other items will not allow e-commerce platforms to avoid charging the minimum delivery fee.

They said: “The €3 delivery fee… is not dissuasive for book buyers and the €35 threshold will favour grouped orders, which is virtuous in environmental terms.”

French bookshops have said that Amazon’s ability to undercut them on shipping has distorted the market, despite a law passed in 1981 that prohibits price discounting on new books.

The country currently has 3,300 independent bookstores, which have seen their market share decline amid competition from online retailers such as Amazon, Fnac and Leclerc.