The President of the Republic wants to impose everywhere on the internet the same price, including postage, for all new books. Emmanuel Macron announced it on Friday 21 but during a trip to Nevers (Nièvre). “It is a subject that we have been carrying for many years”, rejoiced on franceinfo, Anne Martelle, president of the Syndicate of the French bookstore and general manager of the bookstore Martelle in Amiens.
franceinfo: Is this single price for the book with shipping costs something you were asking for?
Anne Martelle: Yes, it is a subject that we have been carrying for many years. Because even if booksellers have a long standing presence on the Internet, the development of their site is hampered by the dumping policy of large platforms such as Amazon.
When Amazon charges a euro cent to ship a book, it costs the same shipment, on average 6.50 euros to the bookseller.Anne Martelle
And if the bookseller passes these shipping costs on to his customer, he loses it to Amazon. And if the bookseller pays the shipping costs, they lose money every time they ship a book. It is an untenable situation for booksellers and then, it should be noted that only on books that Amazon offers almost free shipping with no minimum purchase. It proves that there is a deliberate desire on the part of this company to attack independent booksellers and also to attack in a roundabout way the single price of the book.
How much of your activity does mail order book sales represent for booksellers?
Currently, it is still very small. For the reasons I just told you, it’s between 2% and 5% of their overall figure.
It also means that when customers come to you and you offer to send you a book, well, in the end, most of the time they refuse to find a cheaper price online?
Not necessarily. But yes, it can happen. Then you have clients who understand. But overall, the cost of sending is a barrier to buying in bookstores or via the bookstore website. We are really delighted that the president is interested in this subject because there is such an important dimension.
If we manage to have a minimum billing of shipping costs, for everyone, whether platforms, whether independent bookstores, that could bring back sales in stores in city centers and town centers.Anne Martelle
It would also be a good measure for the environment because deliveries in town are extremely polluting.
How can the government reimburse you for these costs? Would that go through aid?
No, the subject that is currently under discussion provides more for a minimum pricing, which would force Amazon to no longer charge a euro cent, but maybe four, five euros or three euros, that would restore the balance. It would also put into play the real price of transport, whatever it is, the book or something else. The fact [pour Amazon] charging a euro cent gives customers the impression that it costs nothing, neither to the environment nor to their wallet. Well, this is wrong.