The One Country Where Bookstores are Not Crashing and Burning, and Why

Very interesting article from the New York Times, Sunday June 20th.

By Elaine Sciolino

The French Still Flock to Bookstores

PARIS — The French, as usual, insist on being different. As independent bookstores crash and burn in the United States and Britain, the book market in France is doing just fine. France boasts 2,500 bookstores, and for every neighborhood bookstore that closes, another seems to open. From 2003 to 2011 book sales in France increased by 6.5 percent.

Read the complete article here.

I especially wanted to share the conclusion of the article with GMG readers. What a great idea!

A 59-page study by the Culture Ministry in March made recommendations to delay the decline of print sales, including limiting rent increases for bookstores, emergency funds for booksellers from the book industry and increased cooperation between the industry and government.

“Running a bookstore is a combat sport,” the report concluded.

One tiny operation determined to preserve the printed book is Circul’livre.

On the third Sunday of every month this organization takes over a corner of the Rue des Martyrs south of Montmartre. A small band of retirees classify used books by subject and display them in open crates.

The books are not for sale. Customers just take as many books as they want as long as they adhere to an informal code of honor neither to sell nor destroy their bounty. They are encouraged to drop off their old books, a system that keeps the stock replenished.

“Books are living things,” said Andrée Le Faou, one of the volunteer organizers, as she hawked a three-volume biography of Henri IV. “They need to be respected, to be loved. We are giving them many lives.”

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