The French Do Buy Books. Real Books [A NY Times Op-ed piece]

July 13, 2014


I found this really interesting because I too love books, real books, and having to read them on a Kindle–because shipping would take too long or because I cannot find it locally–sometimes breaks my heart. That is despite my knowing books cost us trees, real trees and trees are more important for our survival on the planet.

Anyway, here’s a couple of paragraphs in Pamela Druckerman’s article:

What underlies France’s book laws isn’t just an economic position — it’s also a worldview. Quite simply, the French treat books as special. Some 70 percent of French people said they read at least one book last year; the average among French readers was 15 books. Readers say they trust books far more than any other medium, including newspapers and TV. The French government classifies books as an “essential good,” along with electricity, bread and water. (A French friend of mine runs a charity, Libraries Without Borders, which brings books to survivors of natural disasters.) “We don’t force French people to go to bookstores,” explains Vincent Montagne, head of the French Publishers Association. “They go to bookstores because they read.”


None of this is taken for granted. People here have thought for centuries about what makes a book industry vibrant, and are watching developments in Britain and America as cautionary tales. “We don’t sell potatoes,” says Mr. Moni. “There are also ideas in books. That’s what’s dangerous. Because the day that you have a large seller that sells 80 percent of books, he’s the one who will decide what’s published, or what won’t be published. That’s what scares me.”

If you love books, you should read the complete opinion piece, regardless of where you live in the world.


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