Will small publishers be excluded from the Paris Book Festival, the event that will succeed the Salon Livre Paris and be held, from April 21 to 24, in Paris, at the ephemeral Grand Palais? Dominique Tourte, president of the Federation of independent editions, which brings together 270 houses, criticizes its organizer for having “Imagined a system that makes it impossible for almost all small and medium-sized publishers to be present”.
In an open letter of January 3 to Jean-Baptiste Passé, the managing director of Paris Livres Evénement – a 100% subsidiary of the National Publishing Union (SNE), which now alone organizes this fair -, Dominique Tourte condemns “Prohibitive registration costs”, as “The economic model” selected. He recalls that “The price for participation in Livre Paris [quand l’organisation était confiée à Reed Expositions France] amounted in 2019 to 2,140 euros excluding tax for 9 square meters ” (the smallest stand, unfurnished). A price that explodes at the new Paris Book Festival: “The smallest cell (12 square meters furnished) costs 17,900 euros excluding taxes” and, a new fact, the number of books is limited to 1,500 volumes.
Direct sale not possible
Indeed, while a good number of publishers directly sold their novelties or their background on the occasion of this show, this will no longer be possible. The organizers signed a partnership with the Paris Librairies association, responsible for centralizing all the marketing of the works. Jean-Baptiste Passé, who was general manager of La Procure for five years, before taking charge of the new event, considered it inconceivable not to integrate bookstores into the device. Which also allows, according to him, “To optimize the surface area of the Grand Palais, with central checkouts and no longer on each stand, and to better manage the logistical constraints of the supply flow”.
However, with these new commercial conditions Dominique Tourte calculates that the publisher will only receive 8 euros for a book sold for 20 euros. “Even imagining illusorously selling 1,500 volumes in three days, the maximum revenue would be 12,000 euros”, he asserts. And so the loss “A minimum of 5,900 euros”. What amounts de facto to “Rule out independent publishing, small or medium”, he sums up.
For his part, Jean-Baptiste Passé recalls that “This event will be free for visitors”. A choice assumed in this year when reading is declared a “great national cause”, and where the show returns after two years of absence linked to the pandemic. “Not benefiting from any public subsidy, I had to redefine the economic model, knowing that the ephemeral Grand Palais will unfortunately not make it possible to be an exhaustive showcase of the French edition”, concedes the director. While 13,000 square meters were occupied at Porte de Versailles, where the latest editions were held, the usable commercial area of the new place is reduced to 6,500 square meters. “It is certainly frustrating and imperfect, but we all have to deal with this principle of reality”, replied Jean-Baptiste Passé to the Federation of independent editions, by mail, on January 5.
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