News and Opinion from Anne Barone to Keep You Chic & Slim

|| 16 november 2014

Books in France

Author Daniel Mendelsohn Comments On How Books And Literature Are Valued in France

For news about France useful to Chic & Slim, The New York Times is an excellent source. But, like a growing number of online news sources, the Times has limited access to reading free articles.

Since I know many of you do not have NYT subscriptions, while staying within the boundaries of the “fair use” regulations, I try to quote the most pertinent parts of an article of interest in Nouvelles.

A recent Sunday Book Review contained this quote from author Daniel Mendelsohn.

Whatever the cultural reasons, books in France are indeed an “essential good” — the designation coined by the French government that served to justify the very concrete steps it has taken over the years to protect its precious literary culture. The most prominent of these are laws outlawing the advantages (deep discounting combined with free shipping) that big chains and Amazon enjoy over independent booksellers in the United States and other countries. These help explain a phenomenon that inevitably strikes American visitors to France today: As even big chains such as Borders and Barnes & Noble have faltered here, every block in central Paris seems to sprout at least two small, intelligently stocked bookshops.

Media coverage of literary matters is far greater in France than in the USA. Daniel Mendelsohn also writes:

In the United States, there is one nationally broadcast radio program that has significant coverage of books — NPR’s “Fresh Air,” which book publicists fight over like pi-dogs over a picked bone. In Paris, I soon lost count of how many in-depth radio and TV shows, some as long as an hour, I taped or broadcast live at the circular, weirdly sci-fi-looking Maison de la Radio. I happened to be in France in September, during the rentrée littéraire — the opening of the literary season, when publishers release their big books — and the frenzy was palpable.

Any palpable frenzy in the USA would surely be about sports, not literature. Non?

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone