What’s Holding Up French E-book Adoption?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

Paris has done its utmost to maintain and sustain its 20th-century book culture. But is it hurting readers?

By Edward Nawotka

Yes, Paris has done its utmost to maintain and sustain its 20th-century book culture. City Hall has ordered the Seine-side bouquinistes to stop selling trinkets, publishers continue to be wary of agents, and French e-book adoption is slow — even though retailers are eager to capitalize on consumer curiosity.

French publishing is dominated by Paris and the old world ways therein. And despite — or perhaps in spite — of a growing and vocal youth movement advocating digital adoption, things are changing at the slowest . . . possible . . . pace.

The government just raised the tax rate on books from 5.5% to 7% (as of January 1, 2012). Will the tide turn towards digital, which promises lower price points and convenience? Perhaps, but only if they have e-books to read on their shiny new Kobo Touch readers, iPads and other devices.

There’s no shortage of innovative French digital publishing companies, from Feedbooks to Walrus. Perhaps some of the traditional publishers will finally follow their lead.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

Edward Nawotka is the Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. A former foreign correspondent, he has covered the book business exclusively since 2000, serving as daily news editor for Publishers Weekly and columnist for Bloomberg News.