France Outlaws Free Shipping On Books Bought Online

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France's parliament passed a law this week that's been nicknamed "The Anti-Amazon Law." reports that the new law makes free shipping on books bought online illegal. The law supplements a 1981 law that says that the maximum discount a bookseller can apply to the publisher's suggested price is 5%.

This essentially means that Amazon can't do in France what it's done in the US -- use books as a loss-leader to sell other products, and use free-shipping and low prices to drive out competitors. The French approach to defending independent bookstores isn't particularly subtle or market-friendly, but it's hard to imagine it won't be effective. 

It is completely unfathomable to imagine a law like this passing in the US -- lawmakers deliberately targeting one business, hobbling it on purpose, and the public generally seeming very happy about it (the French law passed unanimously). 

The other wonderful wrinkle to this is that it puts Stephen Colbert and France on the same side of the anti-Amazon war , which is maybe equally unfathomable. We live in a crazy world where crazy things happen.