retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The French government appears to be on the verge of passing legislation that would require online booksellers - such as Amazon.com - to sell at prices higher than those charged by bricks-and-mortar stores, by "banning any seller from applying government-regulated discounts to the cover prices of books that are shipped to readers," the Wall Street Journal writes.

The bill has been passed by the lower house of Parliament and "now heads to France's senate with the backing of both major parties, was explicitly aimed, lawmakers said, at Amazon, which frequently discounts books and ships them free of charge to French buyers—a deal independent booksellers say amounts to unfair competition."

In an emailed response to the legislation, Amazon said that "any measure aimed at raising the price of books sold online would hurt French people's ability to buy works of culture, and would discriminate against online consumers."

There is a broader issue at stake - concerns that companies like Amazon have structures that allow them to avoid paying corporate taxes. France reportedly plans to push for new EU rules that would make it far more difficult to avoid such taxes.
KC's View:
I'm sure that the next thing they'll be doing in France is passing legislation that requires the smoking of smelly cigarettes and the wearing of berets. The next thing you know they'll be putting Charles de Gaulle on the ballot.

Because the general tenor of this legislation seems to be to avoid coming face to face with the competitive pressures of the 21st century.

I think the tax issue is one thing. But deliberately putting online retailers at a disadvantage because they've developed a business model that may be more effective than traditional varieties.