Lang Law

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Lang Law is the informal name given to French law number 81-766, from 10 August 1981, which establishes a fixed price for books sold in France and limits price discounts on them. The law is named after Jack Lang, the French Minister of Culture responsible for creating the law.


Until 1979 fixed prices of the books on the French market were maintained as a result of voluntary agreement between publishers and booksellers.[1] In 1979 decrees forbidding such practices were issued by René Monory, french Minister of the Economy at the time.

Repealing of Monory's reforms of the book market, in order to protect small, traditional booksellers from competition of big stores and chain retailers (such as Fnac), was part of François Mitterrand's electoral program during presidential campaign in 1981. After Mitterrand won the election he appointed Jack Lang as the new Minister of Culture and tasked him with creating a law proposal for a law establishing mandatory fixed book price.[2][3] In August 1981, the French parliament voted unanimously in favor of the law proposed by Lang.[1]

Contents of the law[edit]

The Lang Law works as follows:

  • The publisher decides on a price for its book and is obliged to print it on the back
  • Retailers (professional booksellers and other, nonspecialized sellers), are not allowed to sell a book for a discount more than 5% below the price set by the publisher.[4]

The law was extended to cover e-books in May 2011.[5] Due to this law it is illegal to provide e-books of French publishers as a part of subscription service for a flat, periodical rate.[6]

See also[edit]


  • Canoy, Marcel; van Ours, Jan C.; van der Ploeg, Frederick (2006). "Chapter 21: The Economics of Books". In Ginsburgh, Victor A.; Throsby, David (eds.). Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture. Vol. 1. Elsevier. pp. 720–761. doi:10.1016/S1574-0676(06)01021-0. ISBN 978-0-444-50870-6.


  1. ^ a b Dournes, Manuela (1988). "Le Prix unique du livre au regard du droit européen". Bulletin des Bibliothèques de France (1–02): 88–102.
  2. ^ Corpet, Olivier (2006). Le Prix du livre, 1981-2006 - La loi Lang. IMEC. pp. 18–19.
  3. ^ Shannon, Victoria (14 January 2008). " is challenging French competition law". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Le prix du livre, mode d'emploi" (in French). Ministère de la Culture. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  5. ^ "La France adopte le prix unique pour l'e-book malgré la menace de Bruxelles". Les Echos (in French). 19 May 2011. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  6. ^ Johnson, Hannah (19 February 2015). "Bad News for Kindle Unlimited in France?". Publishing Perspectives. Retrieved 12 January 2019.