Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


A Book is Not Just Business – It’s a Cultural Identity!

France has a network of over 3000 independent bookstores and they are protected from going out of business.

Why, you ask? Simply because they don’t want a limited range of literature. France wants to promote diversity in books by ensuring the market isn’t too dominated by best-sellers, big publishers and large chain stores.

Not a bad idea! You know, only selling so-called “best-selling” books for the fast buck may be the cause of America’s “dumbing down” and narrow-mindedness…hmmmmm.

Max Colchester wrote this revealing article for the Wall Street Journal about France’s approach to protecting and expanding things literary:

For 30 years, Thierry Meaudre’s family bookshop has been protected from competition from big retailers, thanks to a law that bars heavy discounting on books. Now he is hoping the French government will protect him from a new threat: the electronic book.

“I have been having nightmares about digital books for years,” said Mr. Meaudre, 50 years old, surrounded by piles of colorful art books. “It’s not just looming on the horizon. It’s slowly becoming a reality.”

While independent bookstores and small publishers in the U.S. are left to the mercy of market forces, those in much of Europe are protected. The U.K is the only large European economy that allows retailers to discount books freely, says Anne Bergman-Tahon, the director of the Federation of European Publishers.

In France a 1981 law prohibits the sale of books for less than 5% below the cover price, a move to protect independent booksellers from the narrow profit margins that big chains could absorb if they discounted books heavily. But e-books, not covered by the 1981 law because it refers to “printed volumes,” typically sell for 25% less than printed works.

Now France is considering how best to stop big Internet retailers, such as Inc. and Apple Inc., from hurting smaller bookstores and publishers with heavily discounted offers on e-books. Sen. Jacques Legendre this month proposed a law that would allow publishers to set the retail price of e-books.

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  1. It's reassuring to know that some countries respect the rights of the small business proprietors!

    Comment by Frances Jeanne — 09/25/2010 @ 8:02 pm | Reply

  2. I agree…We should take a lesson from them…I just hope that France's laws do not change under pressure…for the sake of the indie bookstores there.

    Comment by John Austin — 09/25/2010 @ 8:06 pm | Reply

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