By Hannah Johnson
The Bookseller reported today that France’s largest publishers will launch a joint e-book distribution platform in mid-June, with full operation of the system expected in September of this year.
Publishers involved in the venture include Eden Books (Flammarion, Gallimard, La Martiniere/Le Seuil), Eplateforme (Editis, Média Participations, Michelin) and Numilog (Hachette Book Group). Distributor Epagine is also involved.
The original press release went out last week on May 12, and was also posted to Epagine’s blog. According to the blog post, the idea behind the joint e-book platform is to provide all booksellers with access to one large catalog of digital books and one online shopping cart that consumers can trust. So instead of calling each publisher for access to their digital books and instead of building their own e-commerce platforms, booksellers can simply gain access to this “one stop shopping” hub for e-books.
This new French platform also assures, for the time being, that control over e-book distribution stays in the hands of publishers and out of the hands of the government. As Olivia Snaije reported for Publishing Perspectives in April, the Ministry of Culture in France advocated for the creating of a single e-book platform, but publishers were concerned that a government-run e-book platform would work more to the benefit of booksellers than of publishers.
The announcement of this e-book distribution platform coincides with the launch of Libranda, Spain’s new e-book platform built by Planeta, Random House Mondadori, and Santillana, as well as smaller houses Roca Editorial, Wolters Kluwer, SM and Edicions 62. In Germany, the German Booksellers and Publishers Association has its libreka! platform, which also serves as an e-book distribution hub for German-language publishers.
What all of these platforms have in common is their goal to facilitate the publisher-to-bookseller relationship and to preserve the traditional value chain of book publishing. European publishers have responded to the growing consumer demand for e-books by enabling booksellers to increase their digital offerings, rather than creating B2C platforms in which consumers can directly buy from the publishers.