Author Topic: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”  (Read 349 times)

Hopscotch

From The Guardian (UK):

“France’s crusade to protect independent booksellers against huge online retailers was stepped up on Friday as the government proposed a €3 (Ł2.66) minimum delivery fee for all online book orders of less than €35….France is seeking to stop what ministers have called ‘distorted competition’ against independent bookshops from online firms who deliver books for a charge of as little as €0.01….In contrast, independent bookshops, in order to keep their narrow margins, had to charge much higher post-office prices when delivering books, sometimes rising to €7….France will notify the European Commission of its plan for the minimum delivery fee, which will take effect six months after the EU grants approval.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/23/france-minimum-book-delivery-fee-amazon
 

TimothyEllis

  • Forum Owner
  • Administrator
  • Series unlocked
  • ******
  • Posts: 5640
  • Thanked: 2205 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Earth Galaxy core, 2618
    • The Hunter Imperium Universe
Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2022, 02:37:37 AM »
That sounds like the typical idiocy of people who don't know how the net works.

The freight is always included somewhere.

If it's not added on the end, then it's in the price charged for the item. You just need to browse eBay and Amazon to see it in effect.

And given the high cost of freight these days, there can't be that much difference between anyone who freights anything. Only those doing huge volumes would be seeing any relief, and not all that much.

People who get books sent out know they are paying for the freight. They accept it.

So where is this actually coming from? And who is it really aimed at?

It certainly won't make any difference to Amazon.
Genres: Space Opera/Fantasy/Cyberpunk, with elements of LitRPG and GameLit, with a touch of the Supernatural. Also Spiritual and Games.



Timothy Ellis Kindle Author page. | Join the Hunter Legacy mailing list | The Hunter Imperium Universe on Facebook. | Forum Promo Page.
 

Cobbah

Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2022, 02:54:20 AM »
France has always been the leader of the asinine and stupid.
 

Anarchist

Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2022, 02:56:38 AM »
When it comes to cause and effect, politicians are the modern equivalent of the village idiot.

At least in the U.S., pols are unabashed shills for the interest groups that line their pockets. What's the French pols' excuse?
"The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.” – Thomas Sowell

"The State is an institution run by gangs of murderers, plunderers and thieves, surrounded by willing executioners, propagandists, sycophants, crooks, liars, clowns, charlatans, dupes and useful idiots—an institution that dirties and taints everything it touches.” - Hans Hoppe

"Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience." - Adam Smith

Nothing that requires the labor of others is a basic human right.

I keep a stiff upper lip and shoot from the hip. - AC/DC
 
The following users thanked this post: sliderule

PJ Post

Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2022, 12:37:25 AM »
I think free speech and innovation are worth protecting, and the best way to accomplish this is by maintaining competitive markets. America even passed laws on the subject:

Sherman Antitrust Act

Clayton Antitrust Act

The purpose of both Acts is to preserve a competitive market, which seems to be France's primary concern. Both democracy and capitalism depend upon a competition of ideas to flourish. The American legislators of the early twentieth century knew that monopolies would ultimately be the death knell of freedom.

I don't know enough to get into the weeds on the issue, but I don't have a problem with France's intent.
 

Crystal

Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2022, 06:01:44 AM »
I'm sure the politicians know how the shipping works. That's why they're proposing this. Because Amazon is able to take a loss in many categories to destroy their competition.

I am really grateful to the opportunities Amazon has provided, but I'm not naive: Amazon is out to have a monopoly on books and that is bad for everyone except Amazon.
 

Post-Crisis D

Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2022, 07:34:17 AM »
A lot of what Amazon does is basically subsidized by AWS.  That's where they make the bulk of their money I have heard.  That means they can take a loss on shipping in order to drive out competition.

Years ago, when I was a Prime member (back when it was $79/year or less), I calculated that the $79 would be a lot less than what I would have spent on shipping costs.  And then, as Amazon intended, you wind up ordering more from Amazon because of the "free" Prime shipping.  Granted, a lot of Prime goods are priced higher to offset the "free" shipping but if you compare prices, a lot of times you would still save big on shipping.

Of course, people like me were probably the ones that led to the "add-on" policy where certain items only qualified for Prime shipping if you met a certain threshold for your order.  Because, before that, I would sort of test Prime.  I once ordered a box of crayons for like $1-something and got it shipped free via Prime.  You can't tell me Amazon made money on that.

Not to mention one time I ordered an item and I got the packaging but not the item.  It was one of those where it was in a blister-pack on a piece of cardboard.  Evidently, it wasn't sealed well so the item had to have fallen out before it was shipped to me.  So whether it was a stock person or a robot, whoever put the blister-pack in my box did not notice it was devoid of the product.  In order to get a replacement, they actually made me send back the empty blister-pack and they paid the return shipping.  Then after getting my refund, I had to reorder a replacement which was then sent via Prime.

There was no way the $79 per year covered the actual shipping plus whatever expenses they had for whatever stuff they included in Prime that I never used.  (I only used it for "free" shipping.)

And now Amazon has their own delivery trucks and more local warehouses.  So, yes, they can undercut other sellers, especially with small orders.  A number of places offer free shipping if your order meets a certain threshold but shipping on small orders can be expensive.

And for a book?  Say a small bookseller has to charge $10 shipping for a book or two.  You might think, well, I can go to Amazon, buy the books there and buy some other things to either qualify for free shipping or maybe you have Prime.  You might say Amazon is hiding the shipping cost somewhere but they can cut that down with their own delivery service plus maybe the books are $10 each from the small bookseller, so you'll pay $30 with the shipping but Amazon charges $12 per book, so you pay $24.  You'd have to buy five books for the small bookseller to be competitive with Amazon.

I don't know if France's plan will work or if Amazon and other Big Tech companies will find a workaround.  Politicians are generally idiots and cause more problems than they solve.  But, at any rate, something needs to be done about companies like Amazon because they are getting too monopolistic.
Mulder: "If you're distracted by fear of those around you, it keeps you from seeing the actions of those above."
The X-Files: "Blood"
 

idontknowyet

Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2022, 09:02:14 AM »
but thats it amazon no longer takes a loss in shipping. theyre soo big they've negotiated deals where its a flat fee per package something stupid like $1.


They took those losses in the beginning with the belief that they could build a brand on free shipping and low prices. They followed the walmart method but took it up a notch. There was vision there, but not without having a sound basis for their business model.

I think France's decision is logical. It makes for a fairer market. Giving smaller businesses a chance.

 

LilyBLily

Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2022, 11:57:06 AM »
The vast majority of small independent booksellers, whether publishers or bookstores, despise romance novels and don't sell them. Therefore, I have no dog in this fight.

Barnes & Noble and Borders did their best to crush all indies and had a few good years doing so, but now indies are thriving again and Borders is dead, and no one is sure B&N is in it to win it. Amazon is the Sears of this era, useful yet too big. Those mail order Sears houses sent by rail probably destroyed a lot of small town home building businesses.   
 

Crystal

Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2022, 04:09:27 AM »
The vast majority of small independent booksellers, whether publishers or bookstores, despise romance novels and don't sell them. Therefore, I have no dog in this fight.

Barnes & Noble and Borders did their best to crush all indies and had a few good years doing so, but now indies are thriving again and Borders is dead, and no one is sure B&N is in it to win it. Amazon is the Sears of this era, useful yet too big. Those mail order Sears houses sent by rail probably destroyed a lot of small town home building businesses.

Not anymore. There's still not a *ton* of romance content in indie bookstores, but there is a handful. With TikTok, indie bookstores can't really afford to ignore romance. So, yeah, it's mostly Colleen Hoover and Emily Henry, but it's also other trad books with illustrated covers.

Source: recently went to a bunch of bookstores with a friend. B&N has about 7 TikTok tables and 50% of them are Colleen Hoover, but the romance section is much healthier than it's been in the past.
 

idontknowyet

Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2022, 06:11:39 AM »
Every indie bookstore i have ever been to is 70% romance and the rest of the genre fight for space. The same went for B&N BAM. Though for those 2 it's more like 50% romance.

Maybe in snootier neighborhoods that's possible. But bookstores sell to readers. romance is and has been the biggest genre for decades.
 

Crystal

Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2022, 09:12:50 AM »
Every indie bookstore i have ever been to is 70% romance and the rest of the genre fight for space. The same went for B&N BAM. Though for those 2 it's more like 50% romance.

Maybe in snootier neighborhoods that's possible. But bookstores sell to readers. romance is and has been the biggest genre for decades.

Really? Until recently, I'd never seen a romance section in an moderately sized indie bookstore. Even Powell's has a very small romance section. The people who go to indie bookstores and the people who read romance... there's a small overlap in that Venn Diagram. Or there was. Until TikTok.

There still wasn't a romance section in the indie bookstores but there were a lot of romance books. And, again, 50% of them were Colleen Hoover books, but 50% weren't.
 

idontknowyet

Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2022, 09:43:03 AM »
I don't go to big indie bookstores. Just little mom and pop stores that sell to local communities.
 

Bill Hiatt

  • Trilogy unlocked
  • *****
  • Posts: 2442
  • Thanked: 913 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Tickling the imagination one book at a time
    • Bill Hiatt's Author Website
Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2022, 04:22:20 AM »
One of the things I discovered when I first started self publishing was that romance is a very underrated genre.

I bought some romance books to be supportive of the some of the authors I met early on, and I found to be not at all what I expected. It is perfectly possible to write intelligent romance books with considerable literary merit. I wonder if the problem with some indie booksellers is that they are still operating on the stereotypes and haven't actually read any romance.


Tickling the imagination one book at a time
Bill Hiatt | fiction website | education website | Facebook author page | Twitter
 
The following users thanked this post: sliderule, LilyBLily

LilyBLily

Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2022, 04:36:19 AM »
Over many decades, I mostly bought my new genre romance paperbacks at drugstores, discount stores, and grocery stores. B. Dalton's and Waldenbooks carried them, but I don't believe B&N or Borders, the higher end versions of the same corporation, or Doubleday, did to any significant degree. Target was at one time well known to carry a deep selection.

Small independent bookstores could seldom make enough money on cheap paperbacks to justify stocking then. They usually concentrated on bestsellers at higher price points, trade paperbacks at higher price points, hardcover books, and book-related gifts. Even then, some of the best indie bookstores, even popular niche ones like children's books, could not weather the competition from B&N and Borders in the heyday of their popularity. Rent has always been a huge issue, too.

I don't know of any indie bookstores anywhere near me (within 50 miles) that aren't merely used bookstores. There is one Books-a-Million 15 miles away, and that's the only bookstore per se.

 

Crystal

Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #15 on: October 06, 2022, 09:35:43 AM »
One of the things I discovered when I first started self publishing was that romance is a very underrated genre.

I bought some romance books to be supportive of the some of the authors I met early on, and I found to be not at all what I expected. It is perfectly possible to write intelligent romance books with considerable literary merit. I wonder if the problem with some indie booksellers is that they are still operating on the stereotypes and haven't actually read any romance.

I imagine it goes both ways. The romance publishers are not courting indie bookstores / the types of readers who go to indie bookstores. The most common way I see romance advertised is still "really effin' hot" and the second is "super emotional." These can both be true but they also turn off a more "serious" reader. (I am a romance author and I still think "well, if all you can say about the book is it's hot, it must not have a very interesting story" and "ugh, seems like it's overwrought" with those two claims).

I notice it a lot within the romance community. People pre-emptively dismiss the literary merit of romance, or the idea of literary merit/ value of that. Perhaps as a defense mechanism. Perhaps just because. I just know I've heard wayyyyy more "romance is *just* a fantasy" or some equivalent (always with a just, as if the books only have the value of filling a fantasy / being sexy / whatever) within the community than outside it.
 

LilyBLily

Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #16 on: October 06, 2022, 11:28:12 AM »
One of the things I discovered when I first started self publishing was that romance is a very underrated genre.

I bought some romance books to be supportive of the some of the authors I met early on, and I found to be not at all what I expected. It is perfectly possible to write intelligent romance books with considerable literary merit. I wonder if the problem with some indie booksellers is that they are still operating on the stereotypes and haven't actually read any romance.

I imagine it goes both ways. The romance publishers are not courting indie bookstores / the types of readers who go to indie bookstores. The most common way I see romance advertised is still "really effin' hot" and the second is "super emotional." These can both be true but they also turn off a more "serious" reader. (I am a romance author and I still think "well, if all you can say about the book is it's hot, it must not have a very interesting story" and "ugh, seems like it's overwrought" with those two claims).

I notice it a lot within the romance community. People pre-emptively dismiss the literary merit of romance, or the idea of literary merit/ value of that. Perhaps as a defense mechanism. Perhaps just because. I just know I've heard wayyyyy more "romance is *just* a fantasy" or some equivalent (always with a just, as if the books only have the value of filling a fantasy / being sexy / whatever) within the community than outside it.

We in the romance community have known this for a long time, and also known that women's writings have a long history of being "just."

Oddly, what I've seen in the past few years are that the books most tagged with "emotional" are not romances but women's fiction and book club fiction--the latter being high-class weepers more often than not. Usually, the romantic relationship in these is more correctly described as a love story. I still haven't recovered from the book club selection in which the heroine gets run over by a dry cleaner's truck; high-class fiction apparently demands an ironic, unhappy ending.
 

Bill Hiatt

  • Trilogy unlocked
  • *****
  • Posts: 2442
  • Thanked: 913 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Tickling the imagination one book at a time
    • Bill Hiatt's Author Website
Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2022, 12:44:09 AM »
Romance isn't the only genre that is often dismissed. I hear pretty much everything except literary fiction being denounced as "genre fiction"--as if literary fiction weren't itself a genre.

Literature can be worthwhile without having to be depressing or accessible only to the intellectual elite. In fact, I'd argue that fiction accessible to the average person is likely to have more of an impact than fiction accessible only to a few. And certainly, literature can be worthwhile without being boring.

The funny part is that much classical literature, often considered the ancestors of current literary fiction, is filled with action, adventure, and romance. Modern readers can be put off by the fact that the Odyssey is in poetry and that Shakespearean (or even Dickensian) English can be hard to read, but when they adjust to the format or the language, they discover just how lively and interesting these works can be. (I know this from more than three decades of teaching high school.) Some of the storytelling devices are archaic, but the stories themselves are far more exciting than a lot of modern literary fiction.

As far as romance being "just fantasy" is concerned, Romeo and Juliet fall in love at first sight. How realistic is that? Yet the play is an enduring classic. And I know some people who insist that they fell in love at first sight. I think what really happened is that infatuation at first sight matured into love. But infatuation feels like love and produces somewhat the same chemical reactions in the brain.

Classic literature does tend toward tragic endings, but Shakespearean comedy by genre definition ends in marriage, not death, so there are plenty of happily-ever-after endings there. And even Greek mythology furnishes some (Perseus and Andromeda, Cadmus and Harmonia, Orpheus and Eurydice--in some versions of the story). 


Tickling the imagination one book at a time
Bill Hiatt | fiction website | education website | Facebook author page | Twitter
 

Crystal

Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #18 on: October 07, 2022, 04:33:40 AM »
Yes, I've often thought the genre v literary war is silly, but it does go both ways. I wish genre authors would show more respect to craft, as a community, but we tend to focus on craft only as a means to sell more books. I suppose some people believe the best books sell the most, but I am not among them.

In terms of romance vs. women's fiction, I'm not sure many people really understand the difference. I spoke to a publisher who descried a romance book (by a very popular romance author) as women's fiction, specifically because it didn't have explicit sex scenes, and had very little sex, in general (and was from an author who had once written very spicy books), even though it was a romance in all the other ways (a main arc of romance, dual POV, minimal subplots).

You can also see this with the way Colleen Hoover is positioned. Her books are marketed as "better and more literary than romance" when that is convenient and as romance when that is convenient. Heck, at Barns N Noble she was on both the steamy and the romcom shelf and let me tell you... anyone who's read some CoHo knows she REALLY doesn't belong in romcom... they might be the exact opposite of romcom. (Personally, I find her books a bit depressing, but that is a big niche in romance. The "angstwhore." Though they tend to have somewhat hopeful endings, they really dwell in the pain (the angst, as they say) for its own sake, and I feel like I'm having a depression relapse when I read them. Did I forget to take my meds? Can someone please get these characters some meds?)

I can't hate too much because this is how trad publishers position their Book Of The Years. They always have a literary style with a genre plot (or at least a very fast-paced plot) and that can be really great (loved My Dark Vanessa and I'm Glad My Mom Died, recently), but it can also be less great.
 
The following users thanked this post: idontknowyet

Bill Hiatt

  • Trilogy unlocked
  • *****
  • Posts: 2442
  • Thanked: 913 times
  • Gender: Male
  • Tickling the imagination one book at a time
    • Bill Hiatt's Author Website
Re: “France sets minimum book delivery fee in anti-Amazon struggle”
« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2022, 12:19:21 AM »
I really like your point about genre writers in many cases needing to pay more attention to craft.

I also understand why sometimes people don't. It's easy for me (retired and with other sources of income) to extol the virtues of literary craftsmanship. But I understand the temptation to crank out novels as quickly as possibly to someone who really wants or needs to make a living at writing. (To be clear, I'm not criticizing people who are just fast writers. I know there are people who have both speed and quality. I'm just saying that some people who don't write as fast push themselves for commercial reasons, and sometimes quality suffers as a consequence.)

It's one of the dilemmas of self publishing. The ideal is to find the sweet spot where one can be successful AND produce great books. Some people do that, but it isn't easy.


Tickling the imagination one book at a time
Bill Hiatt | fiction website | education website | Facebook author page | Twitter