Ladies and gentlemen,
I want to tell you how happy I am to be here, to meet the readers, the actors and all the book lovers.
To meet you, to meet you, to find the Salon.
This is already my second day: I was there to inaugurate it, last night, alongside the Prime Minister.
I also want to say how pleased I am that the Salon has chosen to put Europe in the spotlight.
Today it is at a crossroads.
The elections that will be held in a few weeks may tip her over.
Everywhere is expressed the temptation to step back, to turn our backs on history.
Let us live up to this history, our history.
Let’s live up to who we are.
Europe: that’s who we are.
And Europe exists primarily through its culture.
It is the Europe of which Steiner speaks, the Europe of cafés, places of meetings and debates, landmarks of poets and strollers; the Europe which has given its streets, its squares, its avenues, the names of its writers, its philosophers, its composers; Europe, whose nations, beyond conflicts and reconciliations, have never ceased to converse: in the language of their intellectuals, the language of their artists. In the language of creation.
We had proof of this when the President of the Republic spoke on Italian television.
Convening The Art of Comedy of Eduardo De Filippo, and the genius of De Vinci, he recalled how our imaginations, our literatures and our cinemas constitute the friendship that binds France and Italy.
He recalled that culture reconciles.
In addition, I have just once again met with my Italian counterpart, Alberto Bonisoli, to talk about cultural cooperation between our two countries, starting with the preparation of the Da Vinci exhibitions in Paris in the autumn and Raphael next year in Rome.
France will lend works to Italy, Italy will lend works to France, and we will do everything we can with our museums to make these two celebrations a success.
Europe was founded around its culture.
And we will rebuild it through culture.
This is the vision of the President of the Republic.
A vision he expressed in his speech at the Sorbonne, then in November 2017 at the Frankfurt Fair.
This Europe of culture, the book holds a prominent place there.
It is the foundation of our civilization.
From the invention of printing to the advent of the Enlightenment and the Encyclopedia, our history was written in books, through books.
But that does not make it an object of the past.
The book is a cultural asset that remains dear to the hearts of the French:
According to the study just published by the National Book Centre, 73% of them believe it is "important to read" to "be happy and fulfilled".
It is an object that resists the mutations of our time.
He has adapted to many technological upheavals.
It remains the privileged vehicle for disseminating new ideas; the means of taking a look at our time and its complexity; and, obviously, the source of a pleasure like no other: the pleasure of reading.
Books are also – I’m not telling you – an industry.
An industry that sustains thousands of women and men whose passion and vocation know little equal:
- The authors,
I know their concerns, your concerns, about the future of the pipeline.
Of course, digital has not shaken the balance.
It has not taken the value you create.
But that has not prevented it from stagnating, even declining, for several years.
This decline is not inexorable. I am convinced of that.
Reversing the curve is our common goal.
It fully mobilizes the Ministry of Culture.
And it must mobilize all actors.
To protect the value of an industry, it is sometimes necessary to undertake the necessary transformations.
It’s up to you to adapt!
It is up to you to anticipate future changes; to remain attentive to the customs, to the demands of our fellow citizens; to adapt your offers and your services.
It’s up to us to help you!
That is the role of the Ministry of Culture.
You can count on me to lead an ambitious policy of support for books.
For those who read them and those who write them.
For authors and readers.
In France, in Europe, and throughout the francophone world.
This support is primarily national in scope.
Through the Libraries plan.
Our libraries must adapt to the habits, expectations and rhythm of life of our fellow citizens.
The State is there, the Ministry of Culture is there, alongside the communities, to accompany them.
To allow them to open more and offer more.
Opening more means extending their opening hours, including evenings and weekends.
I was able to see the effects of this last week at the Bayeux Media Library.
It now opens every evening until 7pm, during lunch break, and on Sunday afternoons.
We will continue to support these efforts throughout France.
Offering more means expanding the range of services provided by libraries to our fellow citizens.
It is to make our libraries the bridgeheads of culture in the territories; cultural public service houses of proximity; places of arts and cultural education.
The Bayeux media library, which I was talking about, offers video games, introductory code workshops, writing workshops, a lending service for musical instruments...
It is not only a place of passage, it is a place of mixing.
Not just a place to visit, but a place to live.
Not just a place of reading, but a place of culture.
This is what our libraries must become, even more so than they are today.
When I talk about “offering more”, when I talk about “services not found elsewhere”, I think of another essential link in the cultural animation of our territories—
I’m thinking of our bookstores.
The strength of our bookstores is that they “offer more”.
It is their incomparable service.
These are the personalized advice that our booksellers provide.
It is the curiosity aroused by the only exhibition of a book, which encourages the reader to go out of his routine, his habits; to meet the unexpected.
They are the most effective places for the dissemination of editorial diversity.
So, of course, the entire editorial offer is available on the Internet. And on the Internet, you can certainly find what you’re looking for.
But only in bookstores can we find what we weren’t looking for!
Beyond this observation, our compatriots are still too often unaware that a new book must be offered for sale at a single price, regardless of the distribution network.
The Single Price of Books Act remains an essential tool in our policy in favour of books. Both in the service of the public and in the service of professionals.
I want to repeat it here tonight: the single price for books is an opportunity for our country.
- Because it allows an exceptional variety and density of outlets.
- Because it favours real competition, i.e. healthy and balanced
- And because it keeps prices much more accessible than in most other developed countries.
We were able to extend it to the digital world.
However, there are still difficulties.
The book mediator recently gave me his annual activity report.
In particular, he alerted me to the unresolved issue of confusion between the new and the opportunity in terms of online sales.
We must work together to find solutions to this issue.
Our bookstores, as I said, have many advantages.
It is up to us to value them.
The Culture pass will allow us to do that.
It will soon include a listing of bookstore stocks.
Concretely, this means that, via the Culture pass app, readers will know where the book they are looking for can be found near them.
More generally, books and reading have their place in the Culture pass.
First, because we are trying to offer as many titles as possible to users.
And because we require the selected books to be retrieved from local bookstores.
We are only at the beginning of the experiment but already, it seems that the books are chosen by a large number of experimenters!
And this will no doubt increase with the addition of new offers:
- Booksellers are already encouraged to share their favourites and recommendations.
- The audio book services already available on the pass are currently considering specific offers.
- New or poetry competitions and public readings will soon be included in the pass.
This support for books, I also carry it beyond our borders.
In the francophone world: this is the meaning of the Estates General of the French-language book, announced by the President of the Republic in his plan for the French language and plurilingualism, on March 20.
I am committed to this project, in close association with all countries that share French.
The French language is our chance.
It is a language of exchange, of circulation of knowledge and cultures.
These Estates General must, among other things, make it possible to develop, in all these countries, the French-language edition and the circulation of works and authors.
Sylvie Marcé, who is the Commissioner General, and the teams of the Institut Français have been building a work program and actions for several months now, in conjunction with all the francophone stakeholders concerned.
They have my full support.
I take this support for books to the European level.
Through the defense of copyright.
Europe, as I said, is what we are.
And it’s also our best protection.
The copyright directive is critically important – you know it as well as I do.
For months, the negotiations around this text have been mobilizing us, you and me.
We remain strongly mobilized for the vote by the European Parliament at the end of this month.
The compromise we reached is a good compromise in many ways.
I am thinking in particular:
- The principle of the prevalence of licences on the exception,
- Rebalancing relationships with platforms,
- Or improving relations between authors and publishers.
We will quickly find, on all subjects, methods of application that meet the legitimate interests of publishers and authors, respecting the letter and spirit of the text.
This support for books in Europe I also carry through the support for translation.
Umberto Eco said, “The language of Europe is translation.”
It is up to us to keep this language alive.
To strengthen and develop the budgets and facilities devoted to translation and translators; their mobility and training; the circulation of their works within the European area and neighbouring countries.
The Creative Europe programme now includes a section dedicated to books and publishing.
This is great news.
I hope that your initiatives for the development of translation will take their full place there.
This "language of Europe" that is translation, we will make it live – I announce it to you this evening – through a great translation prize, in partnership with the Société des gens de lettres.
The President of the Republic committed himself to this, at the Frankfurt fair.
This award will become, I am sure, a highlight of our literary seasons.
I warmly thank Marie Sellier, and through her the magnificent institution that is the SGDL, as well as all its members.
Thank you for agreeing to join forces to highlight the work, talent and creativity of a translator each year.
The SGDL will guarantee, I know, a great professionalism and a perfect independence in the instruction of this price.
It will also be able to mobilize all the actors invested in France in support of translation, in order to give this initiative the most collegial character possible.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I cannot speak of translators without speaking, more generally, of artist-authors.
The conditions of artistic creation have undergone a profound transformation over the past three decades.
They are as different from those of yesterday as those of tomorrow.
Let us not be nostalgic for the past.
On the contrary, let us prepare for the future.
But before we act, we need to think.
We have to ask ourselves what place artists, creators, have in our society.
They have been warning us for years about their precariousness.
I hear the voices of authors, in particular, who are concerned about the widening gap between the amount of time they spend on creation and the amount of revenue they get from it.
This development is due to a variety of causes – from dynamics specific to the different economic sectors concerned, to the implementation of reforms deemed ill-suited.
At this pivotal moment, I would like to begin a reflection on the author and the act of creation.
Because what you have in common is the passion of your profession and the joy of creating!
This reflection should make it possible to find the most favourable framework for the development of creation and cultural diversity for the coming years.
This reflection must be ambitious and realistic, concerted and open, multidisciplinary and prospective, at the service of all creators.
I have decided to entrust this mission to Bruno Racine.
He is a great expert on public policy in culture, and I know his taste for analysing the changes in our society.
I am sure that his listening and analytical skills, already put to good use within the Ministry of Culture, will be a guarantee of success.
I want to thank him very much for accepting this mission, which I know is complex and ambitious.
I will detail in the coming days the axes of his mission.
In particular, I would invite him to make proposals to me to set up a college of intellectuals, experts and actors in the sector, which will help to inform his reflections: sociologists, academics, philosophers, economists, jurists…
You will be closely associated.
Finally, there is not only the place of the artist-authors that we must redefine, but also that of the directors of collections.
I know this is a very important topic for many of you
I therefore invite the publishers to propose to me a clear, reasoned and reasonable definition of the situations that should necessarily be admitted as collection directors, in the spirit of social security law.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, these are the few messages I wanted to send you.
The Salon is just beginning.
But I wish you an influx that meets your expectations in the coming days.
And I invite you here, next year, to express the wish that the Book Paris exhibition will make a beautiful place for two major themes carried out in 2020 by the Ministry of Culture: the national year of comics and the Africa season.