June 2012 | Nate Pedersen

Vive le Paperback

Sales of eBooks in the United States now command 20% of the market.

Sales of eBooks in France account for a mere 3% of the market.

The Guardian reported yesterday that the French are largely ignoring the digital revolution in publishing, as the vast majority of French readers still prefer printed books.  And this is great news for French bookshops, who are also set to to benefit from a recent commitment by the Hollande government to rescind the VAT (value-added tax) increase on books introduced during Sarkozy's reign.

Meanwhile, it's worth noting that the French state continues to fix the price of books.  Readers, therefore, pay the same price for books purchased on Amazon.fr as they do at their local bookshop.  Discounting is not allowed. (This price-fixing also applies to eBooks). So French independent bookshops are, if not thriving, at least able to compete in the marketplace.  Paris alone has a healthy 400 independent bookshops.  (London, the ancestral home of the bookselling world, has a scant 130).

France has a long and glorious history of fiercely clinging to its cultural traditions. As the sales of eBooks continue to rise around the world, it will be interesting to see how important printed books remain to French culture.

For now, however, the future of the printed book in France looks very bright indeed.

Vive le livre.