An internet scrapbook with a shuffle button. (They're the best things...!!)
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“There are two things you don’t throw out in France — bread and books,” said Bernard Fixot, owner and publisher of XO, a small publishing house dedicated to churning out best sellers. “In Germany the most important creative social status is given to the musician. In Italy it’s the painter. Who’s the most important creator in France? It’s the writer.”
A more compelling reason is the intervention of the state. In the Anglophone book world the free market reigns; here it is trumped by price fixing. Since 1981 the “Lang law,” named after its promoter, Jack Lang, the culture minister at the time, has fixed prices for French-language books. Booksellers — even Amazon — may not discount books more than 5 percent below the publisher’s list price, although Amazon fought for and won the right to provide free delivery.
Last year as French publishers watched in horror as e-books ate away at the printed book market in the United States, they successfully lobbied the government to fix prices for e-books too. Now publishers themselves decide the price of e-books; any other discounting is forbidden.
There are also government-financed institutions that offer grants and interest-free loans to would-be bookstore owners.
The second half of this article is somewhat less optimistic, so read on. Via @MargaretAtwood on Twitter.
I was in a graveyard for books last night at a large shopping centre, where all the books were five dollars. It is the biggest remainders depot I have ever seen.