retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB has paid a lot of attention to - and cast a lot of aspersions about - French legislation that is designed to limit Amazon's ability to compete there and protect independent booksellers.

Yesterday, we took note of a Christian Science Monitor piece about how the French Parliament has passed a law, described as the "anti-Amazon law," that "would ban online websites from offering free shipping in combination with a five percent discount to customers in France." The law is expected to be signed into law by President Francois Hollande, consistent with a long tradition in France of passing protectionist legislation that helps small independent bookstores survive in the face of larger competition.

The commentary here has pronounced such efforts as insanity, suggesting that French protectionist policies ignore the realities of 21st century living and actually do local booksellers a disservice by allowing them to avoid raising their games in the face of heightened competition. But there is another point of view … expressed in a New York Times column by Pamela Druckerman, author of “Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting.”

Druckerman, who lives in Paris (which, she notes, often is thought of by outsiders as "a Socialist museum where people are exceptionally good at eating small bits of chocolate and tying scarves"), has seven bookstores within a 10-minute walk of her apartment. She suggests in her piece that while the French legislation is hardly a panacea for independent booksellers, it does encourage both diversity and balance, and essentially identifies books as a precious natural resource to be nurtured and protected.

It is a piece worth reading here. Even if it is a little dismissive of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as just "an ambitious billionaire with an engineering degree."
KC's View: