Oui, Oui: How Amazon Is Pissing Off the French Government

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France — land of red wine, baguettes, and the Louvre — has found itself locked in a pissing contest with American retail giant Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) over delivery fees. French lawmakers, in an effort to support small, independent book sellers, passed a law banning free shipping policies, a policy that is being called the “anti-Amazon” law.

France is home to one of the world’s most robust book markets, boasting more than 3,500 traditional shops, 800 of which are independent. So it make sense that the government would be looking out for its interests, especially from large, foreign competitors like Amazon.

While a law banning free shipping is something that is incredibly difficult for Americans to wrap their heads around, the French have become accustomed to protectionist legislation. In 1981, small booksellers were the beneficiary of another law that has banned discounts of more than 5 percent of a book’s cover price for new releases. This, like the anti-free shipping law, was put into place to give smaller shops a leg up.

But Amazon isn’t sitting back, letting the French government one-up it. Instead of abiding by the new law, the company has rolled out a policy that’s ingenious in its simplicity: shipping for 1 cent. While it seems petty and trivial, it is sure to ruffle feathers in the French government, members of which are afraid Amazon will undercut smaller booksellers, even if the company has to do it at a net loss.

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