In his Paris office overlooking Blvd. St.-Germain-des-Pres, Fabrice Piault, vice editor-in-chief for Livres Hebdo, sees a French publishing industry set to change its look. Even while the new digital fashion is turning heads, though, how good is the fit? “Maybe you would have asked me the same question one or two years ago, I would have said that well, there were many worrying about what could be the future. Sure, they are still worrying, but they are also beginning to work on it,” Piault told CCC’s Chris Kenneally at the start of the annual Salon du Livre earlier this month.
What distinguishes the French market from the American, Piault notes, are a wide range of issues, from book prices, bookselling traditions, and a current dearth of e-readers. Without a Kindle-like device to lead the way, French publishers have designed their e-titles with pictures, not text, as the primary selling point. “In France, the most advanced publishers on digital matters are publishers who are involved in illustrated books, comics and graphic novel publishers, how-to-do books, even art books, books for young people, young readers and so on,” Piault said.