Unanimous approval on French "anti-Amazon" bill

A unanimous decision has been taken by French lawmakers to approve a bill designed to safeguard small bookstores against powerful online competitors.

The bill will restrict retailers like Amazon from combining offers of up to five per cent discounts with free deliveries.

It was was proposed by the opposition party UMP, but had all-round support, and will now move to the upper house Senate for consideration. It demonstrates a fightback by the government on behalf of booksellers: the 3,000 independent bookshops in France have said that they struggle to compete with rival retailers who dispatch books by post.

The bill will change laws France already has in place: in 1981, the government ruled that books must have a unique selling price, in order to protect small sellers, but stores have been allowed to apply the up-to-five-per-cent discount.

Amazon has already come under fire from the French government: culture minister Aurelie Filippetti said the company is "destroying bookshops, accused it of creating a "quasi-monopoly" and decried its free deliveries.

Amazon has also been targeted for its tax optimisation, says the BBC's Paris correspondent Christian Fraser - reporting European sales through a Luxembourg holding company.