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France wants Amazon to gouge book buyers, or else

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The other day at the subway station, a Frenchman asked me if I could spare him a dime so he could buy a bottle of pop. Soda. Whatever you call it from wherever you are right now. Anyway, I didn’t have any cash on me so I couldn’t help him out.

But it got me to thinking. This guy probably would have had that dime if he didn’t have to pay full price for books all the time because of some silly protectionist law passed by his country’s government.

See, selling books for below cost in France is illegal. And Amazon.com isn’t allowed to offer free shipping on books either because that’s seen as a discount and a potential threat to small, independent book stores.

You don’t have to be an economics expert to realize that price fixing is inefficient in that it reduces competition and innovation and ultimately hurts consumers and even decreases total sales. So Amazon will need to decide if it wants to even bother selling books in France or start charging delivery fees. If it doesn’t, it’ll have to pay a $1,470 daily fine plus a one-time $147,000 fine to the booksellers’ union.

Who knows? Maybe it can sell enough books with free shipping to cover those fines. That’d be kind of interesting to watch.

Amazon Ordered to End Free Delivery on Books in France [New York Times]

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