The French parliament has passed an amendment to "the Lang Law", to prohibit the free shipping of books in online stores.
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The Lang Law has been regulating the price of books so that bookstores are not allowed to discount them to less than 95%. It has a role to maintain the market of booksellers. As a result, there are lots of independent bookstores, in addition to franchise sellers, in France.
Aurélie Filippetti, the Minister for Culture and Communication in France told that this law is to protect French culture of small bookstores and approved the bill as national deep attachment of books.
This case provides some issues about our society.
I guess many people outside of France, especially Japanese and American are opposed to this decision. I myself am also doubtful of the benefit of it. Citizens will have to pay more money to get books due to the regulation. Legislation which is protective for conservative industries can drop down the national competitiveness in a long term view.
Of course, it is highly suspicious that lobbyists representing booksellers have contributed to the adoption of this law.
On the other hand, it is a curious question whether we call booksellers a culture. Indeed, there are many traditional industries having been contributing to sustain a local society. Marketplace, church, park, library, and other institutions are welcomed as a part of landscapes in many regions. In Japan, a newspaper delivery network is often argued for this matter. However, it is another issue whether they are worthy to be protected forever. Culture is both long lasting and changing. Accepting new customs and abandoning older ones are sometimes necessary to develop our society toward a preferable stage.
There is another background regarding this issue. Correction of Lang Law is so called Anti-Amazon Law. It represents hostility against Amazon and other international companies in French people. They are fearful that Amazon would be dominant in France. If Amazon monopolized the market of bookseller, it would take absolute control on price and offering of the whole industry. It will be a nightmare for France. At this point of view, this legislation is a form of anti-trust law.
Since I have never been in France, I do not know how beautiful French bookstores are. I heard there are some independent bookstores which are charming and comfortable. Afterall, whether protecting such stores with resisting a little inconvenience or not depend on the sense of French.