Dear BenoîtBougerol, President of the Federation of Regional Booksellers, Jean-ClaudeDuqueyroix,Dear AntoineGallimard, President of the National Publishing Union,Mr Deputy Mayor of Lyon in charge of Culture, GeorgesKepenekian, Mr President of the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, Olivier Faron
I am particularly pleased to be with you this afternoon in the
This is the framework of these national meetings of the bookshop.
The organization of this time of collective reflection is an initiative
particularly happy, whom I wish to greet. It seems to me indeed
necessary and urgent to place the bookshop at the center of the debates on
the future of the book industry.
The irreplaceable role played by booksellers in our cultural and
In my opinion, intellectual is not sufficiently recognized and valued.
Know the attention, know the recognition, which I bring to the booksellers of
unique in the world, which helps to promote books in all
its diversity, and contributes in the most essential way to the vitality of our
territories and our democracy.
I know how difficult your job is. I know it can’t be
be exercised only by men and women of passion, activists
but how precious the book, the reading and the
transmission. I also know how much concern is
Study on the economic and financial situation of bookstores
the synthesis of which was presented in the morning,
very dark picture and should be a warning sign
prospects are worrying.
This study, which should be repeated at regular intervals, sets out
before three profound trends affecting the independent bookstore: the
revenue is down, expenses are increasing and profitability
decline. Of course, these are only average trends and study
shows that some businesses are experiencing more
favorable: the most important bookshops as well as those that
invest in high quality work, especially in bookstores
However, we must face the facts: a large number of
France are today in an economic and financial situation very
which leads the authors of the study to predict an acceleration
The erosion of library tissue.
This year we are celebrating the thirty years of the law on the price of books.
The purpose of this law was to maintain, throughout the territory, a
dense and varied network of book retailers to preserve diversity
editorial. Indeed, part of the edition finds its audience only thanks to
promotion, animation and advisory work that is supported by
independent bookstore. If the network of bookstores is threatened, it is also
an important part of the edition, including the creation edition in
literature and humanities, which is in danger.
Sealing the union of interest between publishers and booksellers around commitments
the Lang Act has virtuously structured our book economy
for 30 years. It has not had the perverse effects that its critics
wanted to find it, in particular the inflation of selling prices at
detail. This great and good law remains necessary today. My
conviction, however, is that it is no longer enough to achieve
all its objectives.
I would therefore like to develop with you an action plan for the
distribution of the book, mobilizing all stakeholders, booksellers, well
not only the publishers, local authorities, institutions
and, of course, the state.
Our collective responsibility is to play our part with the greatest
I believe, first of all, that in the face of their deteriorating situation and
increased competition from all kinds of operators, booksellers
must be organized while maintaining their independence. To this end, they
can continue and deepen the pooling processes that have
been undertaken on common strategic topics, whether at
the regional or national level.
As such, I would like to commend the work of social dialogue and organization that
the new collective agreement for the
bookstore. This work is all the more meritorious as the staff
represents an exceptionally high position in the economy of these
In addition, some achievements have already been made around the
book transportation issues are very conclusive. They
should be put forward and widely repeated.
Booksellers must also pool their efforts to
A renewed system of vocational training, which it
initial or ongoing. This requirement meets both the high level of
expected qualification of library staff as at the
responsiveness needed by entrepreneurs in a changing sector.
Interesting ways of organising and sharing are also
the public book markets, notably through the
groups of undertakings and interest groups
economic. In this area, the union can make force in the face of a call
local offers too high to attract a bookstore
Finally, the most acute challenge is the modernization of infrastructure
and digital adaptation. In this area, more than in any other
other, pooling efforts seems to me to be a requirement
imperative. The DATALIB tool, for example, which allows its members
fine-tuning their assortments and monitoring
increase in market developments, seems to me to be necessary to
example and sustained.
I believe there is no alternative to developing a common portal
independent bookstore on the internet, both for online sales of
printed books only to take a place in the digital market
This economic project, embodied today through the portal
“1001 bookseller. Com” is a key political ambition.
That is why the State will support you as it has already done, through the CNL and
as it proposed to do by proposing to include this project in the
investments of the future.
As part of an action plan for the dissemination of books, the
publishers must have their share. I said, the well-understood interest of all
sector is to preserve the exemplary network of sales points
The European Union is the only country in the world to have a single market.
Without this network, sales will inevitably concentrate on a number of
reduced titles, editorial risk will become increasingly difficult to
take and eventually the production will become impoverished.
The law of 10 August 1981 gives a great deal of power to the publisher: it is he who fixes
the retail price of the book. In this context, the retailer, for its
remuneration, depends entirely and strictly on the remission he
This act, as I said, is a good act. Indeed,
it also provides, in return for this great power given to
the publisher, that the qualitative work of the bookseller must be mainly taken in
account to establish its discount.
Today, the XERFI study shows, the costs of this work
increase dangerously, be it through the costs of
staff, which ensure a good advisory service, or through
the real estate charges, essential for the establishment of bookshops
as shops in the city center, able to allow
to ensure the best possible dissemination of the book to a varied audience.
In comparison, the trade margin is stagnating. Commercial discounts do not
take into account this increase in quality service, then
even if the logic of the 1981 law should lead them there.
Clear guidelines could therefore be given today by the
publishers to their distribution providers to readjust policies
in a way that is more consistent with the spirit of the act. Again,
this approach is in line with the well-understood interest of the entire sector. The
the fragile ecosystem of creation and dissemination must not be
to meet short-term profitability objectives specific to
this or that segment of the book chain.
Please also be assured of my determination to ensure that
public authorities take their share of responsibility in supporting the
Professionals in your industry often say that the book is the
cultural industries by its volume of business, but that it
is also least assisted by public authorities; and, that it would be
perhaps the least loved, so much so that the interest of the State is manifested
in general terms by the amount of money it allocates to a particular priority.
Such a concept could be accepted if only
compliance with the public aid allocated to the bookshop.
Thus, for 2010, direct state support for the French bookshop can be
estimated at €3.5 million. The Ministry of Culture itself has
spent 1 million, through its DRAC, and the CNL allocated 2.5 million to this
objective. CNL’s aid has risen sharply in recent years,
in particular as a result of the introduction of aid for the valuation of funds
VAL, for just over 800,000 euros.
But the book also benefits from an unfailing benevolence of the
the political authorities of our country. This is one of the reasons why
laws passed in favour of this sector are very often, if not always, to
the unanimity of Parliament. I was able to see that shortly after my
at the head of the department, when we debated the exemption,
for books, the reduction of payment periods provided for by the law of
modernization of the economy (LME). The book is now the only and
only economic sector to be exempted from the reduction of
payment. This is an outcome that I hope everyone here can measure
Similarly, the Single Price for Digital Books Act should
be voted unanimously despite the heated debate to which it will have given rise.
I would also recall that the main financial support for the book and,
in particular, the bookstore does not rely on direct aids, but on
tax expenditure, due to the application of the reduced VAT rate to the pound
which represents an effort of around 500 million euros for the
public finances. This is a considerable effort that must benefit from a
Indeed, the reduced VAT allows the book to continue to be sold at a price
very reasonable since, for several decades, the rise in
pound is below inflation. Single price and attractive price are two pillars
inseparable from our vision of the book economy.
In a context where the costs of the bookshop are increasing, wisdom
The price of the book is undoubtedly a difficulty.
Many other quality shops, to keep in the center
city, did not hesitate to increase their prices very substantially; the
consumers know this.
As I said, we have to face this challenge collectively. The
government and Parliament, for their part, supported the extension of the
digital book, because the price level in this market will be a
essential determinant of the compensation of the sector but also of the
behaviour of the public, which must remain our horizon.
This measure should apply to January 1. Everyone knows that
that it is not in conformity with Community tax law. That is
why Jacques Toubon was charged by the President of the Republic
to pursue, on this subject, a broad mission of conviction of States
and the European Commission. This is a
difficult but whose first results are very
In the difficult and uncertain environment we know, the contribution
The European Union’s Member States must follow two complementary paths.
First, the framework for regulating the economy of the
This is of course the purpose of the bill on the single price of books
Tomorrow, May 17, 30 years after the Lang law, the law on book prices
will be definitively adopted in Parliament, 15 months after
the President of the Republic launched the idea.
I was from the outset a supporter of its most discussed provision, namely its
application to retailers established outside our territory when they
market e-books to French readers. I am
Congratulates MPs and Senators, led by Hervé Gaymard and Jacques
Legendre, have been able to converge on a text that now seems very
This initiative launched jointly by the Government and the
Parliament has been subjected to many criticisms, often launched on the mode
of derision. The idea of regulating the price of books in the digital age
would have been unrealistic and would have demonstrated, once again, the ignorance of
authorities of that country in the operation of the networks
I note with great satisfaction that, in one year, the terms of the debate
have moved and that this law is now looked upon with interest by
those who were challenging the principle. And France does not have to blush
Once again, we must act as a scout in this field.
But make no mistake, it all starts now.
It all begins for the Minister of Culture that I am, because we know
that this law is not looked upon kindly by the
Even today, the French Government communicates its response to the
two very reserved opinions which the Commission has addressed to us on our
text. The stakes are not small but our arguments are extremely
strong. We demonstrate in this response that a fixed price system
is the best guarantor of remuneration for creation and diversity
editorial for the digital book as it was for the printed book.
We stress the need to maintain a certain level of
sale so that the creation is paid correctly, what a tariff
uniform of 9.99 does not allow. We finally demonstrate the necessary
complementarity of physical library networks and networks
to achieve this goal of editorial diversity, where the
The Commission claims that a pure Internet player alone can do it.
We will have to win partners in this fight, I
Spain, Germany or the Netherlands, which
appear to share our views. The European Parliament will have to be convinced,
traditionally more sensitive than the Commission to
to put the e-book prize on your agenda.
I have already begun this work of persuasion and I am
reasonably optimistic about our ability to bring together a group of states
favour the regulation of book prices in the digital universe.
It all starts also for professionals in the industry you
are, publishers but mostly independent booksellers.
I suspect that for many of you in this room, the
digital remains a very distant horizon. And it is true that the sale of
digital books are virtually non-existent today for the majority
of the industry. However, we know that it can be
for those who are already doing it. We know
especially in New York, since January this year, the
digital book sales exceeded pocket book sales.
America, of course, remains a New World in this respect. Europe
will likely experience slower developments. However, I do not
could too commit your profession to anticipate them now, with
all the necessary seriousness.
The Single Price Act sets out a framework for this. The years
will be crucial to enable the book industry to
to organize, so that digital, in a concern for cultural diversity,
benefits all actors and not just the greatest.
Two years is not too long for the platform in particular
1001booksellers.com can become a real player
the sale of digital books.
We also need to ensure that the existing regulation, which has
I am thinking in the first place of the special responsibility which the powers have
as buyers of books.
The Single Price Act has been extended to community purchases
in 2003. Rebates have been limited so that
independent bookshops can regain their foothold in this segment of activity,
left to the wholesalers. Since then, the price is no longer a
determining criterion for the award of contracts.
Sales to communities account for a significant share of sales
of bookstores: 18% on average, but this figure can reach up to 50%
for specialized bookshops (youth, comics). An evaluation study of
the 2003 law conducted in 2010 by the Ministry of Culture with the help of
several regions, shows that independent bookshops represent
more than 2/3 of library book purchases, a higher figure
before the rebate cap.
Nevertheless, due to the reforms of the Public Procurement Code, we are witnessing
since 2005 to a movement of reconcentration of these markets to benefit
a few very large bookstores and at the expense of local bookstores.
I therefore asked my services to drive with the Regions, while at
of the year, information activities designed to give
public buyers all key, in compliance with the legal framework, to
allow local actors to bid in the best
conditions. A vade mecum of tenders for the purchase of
books for libraries will also be released this year.
2011 is a test year for public procurement, as it is a
year of renewal of calls for proposals for libraries
territorial and university.
I think that this work can be continued by the commitment of
with local authorities, especially the Regions, on the
role played by independent booksellers in the provision of textbooks
families. This is a sensitive issue because of the models
full free of charge implemented by many communities - and
but it seems to me that discussions could
The European Union must be open about this.
I don’t want to be misunderstood about these actions. It’s natural that
some independent booksellers know better than others how to take advantage of
and are able to organize themselves in such a way as to have a
national activity in this area, to the detriment, perhaps, of some
local actors. Public authorities cannot question this
dynamism. On the other hand, it is a question of avoiding the
that would be harmful to the whole
Because it shifts the subtle balances established between the actors of
economic sectors, the digital revolution is bringing
areas under my ministry, a new need for intervention,
In the case of the State.
Although the 1981 Act had undeniably positive effects, its
application may raise difficulties or lead to circumventions,
on the Internet. I am thinking of several examples such as the
price marking, diluting single price collection on the Internet,
sales with bonuses or reserved exclusively for certain circuits, the
contested the scope of the 1981 Act by certain
operators located on the margins of the book economy - for example for
musical scores. In the long run, these difficulties and circumventions are
Lang Act. And who can say, today, how the
Will the new law on e-book pricing be implemented?
I note, however, that there is no authority within the State to ensure
police of these devices, not the Directorate-General for Competition,
who refuses, only the ministry of culture, whose vocation it is not.
Faced with this situation, disputes do not always constitute the
better answer - especially because their resolution requires several
years, but also because they exacerbate the divisions
Friendly solutions could sometimes avoid them.
Government mediation, which has been successfully undertaken to
some cultural industries, such as film, is not an idea
in the book industry. I am thinking of the Cahart mission dedicated to the
moralization of the office and quality discounts, at the beginning of the years
1990, or the old thinking that gave rise to the
by Francis Lamy, mediator of the cinema, of an ad hoc report to the
Minister of Culture.
Mediation cannot be a substitute for play
normal commercial relationship between publishers and broadcasters, this has
always been clear in my mind and the report submitted by Antoine Gallimard
in 2007 on the independent bookstore recalled.
From this point of view, I welcome the trade initiatives that the Group
Hachette has just announced to improve the profitability of bookstores
Reference Bookshops. The fact that this group, which
is a key player in the book chain, commits to
this way is a very strong sign of responsibility for all others
Despite the primacy given to the commercial relationship, mediation
can nevertheless play a beneficial role. Without having a preconceived plan, I
would therefore like a discussion to be reactivated in this direction
with the interprofessional.
In parallel with these efforts to broaden and strengthen our framework for
regulation, it is necessary to deepen our support mechanisms.
I am thinking in the first place of the label «independent bookshop of
reference». I awarded this label for the first time shortly after my
Ministry of Culture, in August 2009. Nearly 500 booksellers are
today: they form the spearhead of the
diversity and quality that we pursue.
At the outset, however, I called for a reform of the system,
to include high-quality bookstores, whose work is recognized,
but the very strict criteria of the scheme penalized.
It is now time to do so, as the Council of State is currently seized of the
draft decree on the extension of the criteria of the label. I can only
to encourage you, booksellers, to make the label live and to assume it fully,
to make it a framework for developing and strengthening your
As far as the public authorities are concerned, I will propose to my colleagues
government to lead the reflection aimed at deepening the
in two complementary directions.
The Label allows bookshops to be exempt from taxes
local economies. It is not known at this stage whether communities have or
number of exemption measures, the year 2009 having been a
year of reform of the business tax. In case of reluctance of
communities, it would be logical to reactivate the original idea of a
compensation, otherwise total and automatic as in the case of the label
«art and essay» for cinemas, at least partially, of
exemptions granted by local authorities. One might think
State aid to the community of 50% of the cost of
the exemption, so as to make the label a shared aid scheme.
I would also like to revive the idea of an exemption from payroll taxes
for bookshops benefiting from the label. This track suggested by the report
rendered by Antoine Gallimard on the bookshop in 2007, I think
particularly relevant to the significantly higher cost of
and the importance of cultural jobs created by the
Finally, I would like to launch a proactive
contract with the Regions to strengthen and give
consistency of aid allocated to the book industry.
Cultural and editorial diversity, quality requirements are objectives
policy carried out by the State. They are at the heart of the
National Book Centre and are the determining criterion
its various committees propose to allocate aid.
However, it would be dangerous today to forget one of the aims of
the law of 10 August 1981, which was and must remain a law of development
cultural and economic aspects of the territory. This
important at a time when the XERFI study clearly shows that
bookstores threatened are not those of the first level - those, for
to simplify, benefit from or benefit from the LIR label. These
rather well, as a quality policy ends
always by paying.
The bookshops that will suffer the most are those in small and
average, essentially constituting the second level or networks
less structured. These bookshops are also expected to reinvent themselves,
by diversifying, by developing their role as cultural leaders, by
deepening everything that underpins the public’s attachment to its bookshop, the
proximity, the pleasure of exchange and transmission, the feeling
belonging to an intellectual or cultural community.
While important metamorphoses must be undertaken, these
thousands of points of sale, essential to our cities, are not affected by the
CNL grants which benefit relatively large structures,
in large cities. As for the assistance provided by
RDCA does not follow clearly defined guidelines
and coherent from a national point of view. Finally the Regions do not propose
very few aids to the book economy, even though they have a
great responsibility in the cultural planning of the territory.
Booksellers in small and medium-sized towns must therefore benefit from
more appropriate forms of support that we can build with
Regions, under the “progress contracts” benefiting some
Progress contracts are mechanisms set up by the Regions,
with the support of the State: it is a question of establishing a diagnosis on certain
economic sectors and build support plans, generally
over three years. While culture has so far been largely
ignored by this type of reflection, the signing of progress contracts in
book dissemination will enable us to encourage the regions to
The European Commission is also
guiding a cultural and economic development objective
of the territory. I add on this theme that I wish to propose to
Government the relaunch of FISAC, this fund to support businesses
of cultural property, in order to strengthen the
modernization of small booksellers.
Whatever their advantages and convenience, the sales sites in
line will never allow the new creation of
meet its audience as do the men and women who, each
dialogue with readers in bookstores, until they recognize each other
in the beautiful expression of “book smugglers”. In a world without
booksellers, reduced to a few large digital supermarkets, which
will discover, who will share the Julien Gracq of tomorrow? Be so
once again assured of my determination to accompany you to the
other actors in the book chain, to think and build
together the future of the bookstore.