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French bid to ban free book delivery could hit Amazon

The new logistics center of online merchant Amazon

The new logistics center of online merchant Amazon is seen in Lauwin-Planque, northern France. In an unusual show of unity, the upper house of France's parliament unanimously approved a bill that would amend a 33-year-old law regulating book prices and help struggling independent book sellers in that country. (Sept. 19, 2013) Credit: AP

If the French Senate gets its way, retail giant Amazon and its online peers won't be able to offer free book deliveries in France anymore.

In an unusual show of unity Thursday, the upper house of parliament unanimously approved a bill that would amend a 33-year-old law regulating book prices and help struggling independent book sellers, which have faced tough competition from cost-cutting online vendors in the digital age.

The legislation could weigh on the minds of customers when they decide whether to trek over to mom-and-pop bookshops instead of shopping online.

The bill would allow online vendors like U.S.-based Amazon to cut the regular delivery price by up to 5 percent -- but not provide free delivery. It differs slightly from a bill passed in the National Assembly, parliament's lower house, in October, which said nothing about barring free delivery.

Amazon.fr systematically offers both a 5 percent discount on books, and free delivery.

Amazon declined to comment.

Socialist Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti hailed the Senate vote as part of a strategy to support book shops in France -- including some $15 million in state support for independent booksellers.

-- AP

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