We were sent a link to this New York Times article, "The French Still Flock to Bookstores".
As independent bookstores crash and burn in the United States and Britain, the book market in France is doing just fine. France boasts 2,500 bookstores, and for every neighborhood bookstore that closes, another seems to open. From 2003 to 2011 book sales in France increased by 6.5 percent.
There are many differences to bookselling in France - as long as you are selling French publications.
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.
However, as the article points our (somewhat obliquely) is that all fo this protection is applicable only for French-language bookstores. A venerated English-language shop, Village Voice, has closed, falling prey to all of the problems facing booksellers in the US. People were sorry to see it go, but since it was English language, it didn't have the protections that native-language bookstores have.
Can you imagine the response of congressional Republicans if someone were to seriously propose a system like this, let alone something called the "National Center of the Book", a department in the Culture Ministry which, like the Paris regional government, gives interest-free loans to those interested in starting a bookshop?
As noted in the Seattle Times recently, attempts to dicker with the price supports the US government pays to sugar producers are fought off tooth and nail. If banks are in danger, they're bailed out. If natural disasters hit - the Feds arrive with help.
But an entire industry, a rich and vibrant segment of our national culture, is being wiped out due to predatory market manipulation and the Justice Department goes to war to negate solutions that the government had no hand in constructing, solutions that would help - a tiny bit - booksellers strive to survive...