Senators at the upper house of the French Parliament have come together to approve of a bill that would make it illegal for online retailers to offer free home delivery. This no doubt will hit Amazon’s French operations hard where the retailer has been doling out discounts as well as the bait of free home delivery to lure buyers. While the bill will continue to allow Amazon to offer the five percent discount on ebook prices, the retailer will now have to charge a price for delivering print books to customers.
The move is being seen as part of the French government’s plans to save independent booksellers from becoming extinct, a notoriety that online ebook sellers have earned no matter how convenient it is for consumers to place orders and have them delivered at home for free. Now with the latter option gone, the brick-and-mortar shops will be at a level playing field vis-a-vis their online counterparts. Theoretically, the bill should act as the nudge for consumers to make the trip to their nearest physical bookstore though it remains to be seen how much of a positive increase in footfall that the bookstores experience.
What also can’t be denied is that there will be some increase in visitors to the bookstores for those of whom it still works out to be cheaper to be at the store after factoring the traveling costs. This way, the physical bookstores should at least get the chance to survive the digital boom that has doomed many booksellers around the world.