Ya gotta love the French. A nation steeped in the rich history of protesting about anything and everything (the last time someone drove a truck and actually delivered their shipment without taking industrial action along the route was in 1983*) so it comes as no surprise that five of the nation’s major book sellers have called on publishing houses and the government for support in creating a new retail structure for electronic books to fend off Amazon, Google and Apple.
Reuters are reporting the five retailers in question “urged the French government to extend protective measures already in place for physical books to e-books, including a single-price mechanism to muzzle competition.”
Guillaume Decitre, head of bookseller Decitre commented, “If we don’t manage to do this, what’s going to happen? We will find ourselves in front of a platform, or hub, already made by a private company … whether Amazon, Google or Apple.”
Decitre added the filtering of Internet portals in China and Amazon’s removal of George Orwell’s 1984 from its e-book platform were examples of why this was undesirable. Although Decitre and his fellow CEOs said they and their supporters represented 70% of the French book market, they know they need the backing of publishers to get content.
We like the way James McQuivey from US-based Forrester Research puts it when he says that “this will probably be uniquely French if it succeeds”. He added, “(If publishers and retailers) do cooperate, it’s not because it’s in their interests. It’s more about preserving the culture.”
For their part, some French publishers, including Hachette Livre (a subsidiary of Lagardere which is France’s largest publisher), have already set up their own individual platforms for distributing e-books, but Decitre said a single collective platform would be “three to five times” cheaper.
Hachette Livre are skeptical about the idea and sales director Francis Lang said he was not opposed to a hub, but said the interests of publishers were currently not the same as those of physical booksellers.
*This may not be wholly accurate