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France is Introducing Laws to Protect Independent Bookstores from Amazon

Is online shopping too big to overcome?

Image Credit: Pixabay/Sierra Maciorowski

France has taken legislative measures to ensure its independent bookstores will be protected and preserved in the time of corporate giants, such as Amazon, eliciting widespread praise from store owners and book lovers.

We all know how easy it is to turn to Amazon for all of our consumer needs. With lightning-fast delivery and affordable prices, it’s not a surprise that most opt to order their goods online rather than make the effort to go outside and face the real world. I get it.

During the many lockdowns that came with the pandemic, many had no options but to order online, as many ‘non-essential’ stores were forced to close. For many, this included bookstores. Which caused a plethora of annoyances, as lockdown was the perfect time to read, but given the covid regulations, people had no choice but to order their paper escapes online. Unfortunately, many independent bookstores couldn’t compete with digital titans such as Amazon due to the nature of postal expenses. Who would want to pay an extra x amount on top of their purchase for delivery, when Amazon offers it for free?

Well, France has made strides to address these issues and level the field, having agreed to impose set delivery charges for companies such as Amazon, in regards to books. It’s an effort to preserve the striking 3,500 independent bookstores across the country, which create around 12000 jobs. For comparison, the UK has around a third of the number of bookstores as France, a testament to how culturally significant these stores are to the French.

Image Credit: Pixabay/Public Co

In terms of culture, it is to preserve and encourage reading that French politicians shockingly agreed unanimously that protecting these stores was a priority. During a time of political tension, it is a testament to how important books are that people from all over the political spectrum agreed that more must be done to shield them from the threat of online shopping.

France has taken measures in the past to protect the sanctity of reading in what they describe as “cultural exceptionalism”, which included extending opening hours of libraries and fixing the price of books (no 3 for 2 deals here, unfortunately!) across all stores, with a maximum discount of 5% being allowed.

Amazon responded to the decision by warning that it would impact rural-living consumers’ access to books, depriving them of the ability to buy them. However, French politicians responded to this ‘concern’ by arguing that most people who bought books online were based in cities and urban areas, with independent bookstores thriving in rural regions of the country.

Image Credit: Pixabay/Pexels

Many booksellers within the country have welcomed this move, particularly during the pandemic as many independent bookstores just about survived. There are still concerns, however.
Whilst independent stores now will be able to compete with the cost of online shopping; they won’t be able to offer the same speed of delivery.

In a world where we can order anything at the click of a button and have it delivered the next day (or sometimes sooner), will customers have the patience needed for the slower pace of independent buying? Let’s hope so, it would be a travesty to lose independent book stores – nothing can compare to the experience of shopping in one!

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