Amazon.fr cites UK in fixed price attack

<p>Amazon France chief Xavier Garambois has called for an overhaul to the French 1981 Lang Law on fixed book prices and has cited the UK as a market that has thrived since the Net Book Agreement (NBA) was scrapped in 1995.<br /><br />Quoting Nielsen BookScan figures, he told the cultural affairs commission of the National Assembly, or lower house of Parliament, that the number of publishers in the UK had risen from 2,200 in 2001 to nearly 3,200 in 2007, that average book prices paid had dropped by 7% over the same period, and that the number of titles published had risen from 95,000 in 1994 to 115,000 last year. The Lang Law &quot;mechanism should be reviewed in detail&quot; in order to boost market growth, he said.</p><p>Amazon.fr wants to offer its customers free deliveries, but their legality has been under question, with a number of cases before the French courts. Free deliveries &quot;enable us to offer the same prices as bookshops and are in no way illicit or illegal,&quot; he said.<br /><br />Garambois was speaking at a parliamentary roundtable organised by the commission with the aim of informing MPs about the Lang Law, and attended by a number of trade bodies, and about 20 French MPs. There are fears that the law could be weakened by intense lobbying from adversaries to fixed prices, such as Amazon. </p><p>Speaking before Garambois, Serge Eyrolles, president of the French Publishers Association (Syndicat National de l&#39;Edition), said that the abolition of the NBA in the UK had had a negative impact. Independent booksellers had disappeared, prices had risen, and the choice of books had shrunk, he said.<br /><br />Centrist MP Jean Dionis du S&eacute;jour, who had tabled and withdrew an amendment to a parliamentary economic bill allowing unlimited book retail price discounts one year instead of two years after publication, said he would not resume his attack on the Lang Law. But he stressed that the legislation needed a facelift. He added that he didn&#39;t believe French Booksellers Association (Syndicat de la Librairie Fran&ccedil;aise, SLF) president Benoit Bougerol&#39;s claim that his bookshop in the south of France would have folded within six months if the amendment had been adopted.</p><p>Only about a half-dozen French MPs stayed to hear the full session, with an assembly spokesman saying they had a vast workload as the summer recess approaches. A full review of the Lang Law will now be taken up by the Book Council working group to be set up by former finance minister and MP Herv&eacute; Gaymard.</p><p>Bougerol said he was reassured by this, but was concerned that the MPs behind the amendment to the economic bill did not appear to appreciate how fragile independent booksellers were. &quot;We seem unable to understand each other,&quot; he told <em>The Bookseller</em>. </p>