Godfray renews government plea on Amazon

Godfray renews government plea on Amazon

Bookseller Association c.e.o Tim Godfray has renewed his calls to the British government to take action to protect bookshops from growing competition from Amazon after French culture minister Aurelie Filippetti announced an additional €9m interest-free loans to shore up booksellers in France.

The measure, announced by Filippetti yesterday (4th June), will bring to €18m the total pot earmarked to help the sector this year, alongside a plan to nearly double the budget of the National Book Centre from €2.5m to €4.5m.

Godfray on behalf of the BA, told the Guardian that if more wasn’t done in the UK to stop the “relentless expansion” of Amazon and protect UK bookshops, then further bookshops, publishers and agents would go out of business. Bookshops are already closing down at the rate of one a week, he said.

In a speech to booksellers in Bordeaux, Filippetti said: “Everyone has had enough of Amazon, which by dumping practices, slashes prices to get a foothold in markets only to raise them as soon as they have established a virtual monopoly. The book and reading sector is facing competition from certain sites using very possible means to enter the French and European book market. . .  it is destroying bookshops."

The minister is considering stopping Amazon from being able to offer free postage to customers and ending the practice of offering 5% discount on books. In France, the price of books is fixed, but booksellers can give discounts of up to 5%. Many independent booksellers have complained they are being put out of business because Amazon discounts all its books at 5% then offers free postage on top to customers.

In the UK, booksellers Keith and Frances Smith recently handed in a petition to Downing Street signed by 1750,000 people, calling on more to be done to level the playing field between independent, bricks and mortar shops and Amazon on the back of revelations the online retailer paid a tiny amount of corporation tax in comparison to its sales in 2012.

Keith Smith told The Bookseller: “The high street, which is fundamental to our daily lives and leisure and culture, will not survive unless this totally unfair competition is stopped in its tracks. I too could reduce all my prices if I didn’t pay tax. We are talking about issues of morality and fairness here.”