23.12.11 | Barbara Casassus
Google Books and the French online publication ActuaLitté have launched a digital library of out-of-copyright books that have been scanned by the US firm.
All the titles in the Google Books catalogue will be available through actualitte.com/bibliotheque for free downloading in PDF or ePub format.
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| By Barbara Casassus
The French book trade has reacted badly to the government’s decision to raise the reduced VAT rate on books from 5.5% to 7% on 1st January as part of a financial package to help shrink France’s mushrooming public deficit.
The French Publishers Association (Syndicat National de l’Edition, SNE) and the French Booksellers Association (Syndicat de la Librairie Française, SLF) condemned the move, as did several members of parliament and the opposition Socialist party. The party warned the book sector was in imminent danger with “little hope” for publishers and independent booksellers. It said the budget-saving measure was ridiculous.
The SNE said it regretted the absence of consultation over the move while the SLF warned that it could cut average net profits from 0.3% of sales to 0.2% and lead to the closure of hundreds of bookshops. Alexandre Bompard, c.e.o. of French cultural products chain FNAC, was reported as saying that the increase threatened the fragile book sector, which was already under pressure.
He was backed by the Syndicat des Disributors de Loisirs Culturels (SDLC), which comprises Decitre, FNAC, Cultura, Le Furet du Nord and Virgin Stores. The rise would “generate large losses” on stocks acquired with 5.5% VAT, and “create insurmountable problems” in a market where prices are printed on books, he said. Already the decline in sales of books by bricks and mortar stores this year is undermining chains, which are having to absorb higher overheads, it added.
French online-only publishers join forces
| By Barbara Casassus
Twenty French online-only book publishers and other digital providers have joined forces for the first time to launch the new literary season.
The site larentreelitteraire.org was unveiled this week and will stay live until 15th November to offer readers information about more than 100 new electronic titles, their authors and reviews, according to book news website and partner Actualitté.
The site, initiated by enhanced e-book publisher Walrus, also includes articles explaining some of the issues and challenges facing the digital book sector that “have not yet received adequate media coverage”, and will be updated as the weeks go by, Actualitté said.
| By Barbara Casassus
French publisher La Martinière has dropped its legal action against Google and signed an agreement with it to scan specified out-of-print French language titles.
The publisher was locked in a five-year long legal battle against Google for having digitised copyrighted books without permission. The pact is similar to the one finalised last month with Hachette Livre, which was aimed to serve as a model for other French houses.
The difference is that La Martinière and Google will draw up a catalogue including both the titles already scanned in partnership with American libraries and those to be covered by the latest deal, a Google France spokesperson said. The publisher will decide which titles will be withdrawn and which will be scanned.
|By Barbara Casassus
The agreement for Google to scan out-of-print French language books for Hachette Livre has been signed, two months later than scheduled.
The five-year agreement should have been finalised six months after the memorandum of understanding was signed last November, but it was delayed until last week by technical hitches.
The pact confirms Hachette Livre will decide which titles should be scanned and which should be made available as e-books through Google and booksellers or for other commercial purposes, such as print-on-demand, the two companies said in a joint statement.
The scanned books, which potentially could total between 40,000 and 50,000, will also be entered into the database of the French National Library (BNF).
By Barbara Casassus
The French internet portal for independent booksellers, 1011libraires.com, will finally be launched on 4th April after several months of delay due to technical difficulties.
Initially, 300 outlets will be hooked up to the site to sell up to 300,000 physical and electronic books. The aim is to increase the number of booksellers taking part to 800 by 2014 and to 1,300 by 2018, and to make one million titles available.
By Barbara Casassus
The new-look Paris Book Fair will open on Friday [18th March] for four days as five of the leading French publishers ponder the raids by the European Commission competition officials a fortnight ago.
Hachette Livre, Bayard and other houses, which pulled out of the fair last year or scaled back their presence in protest against the cost of participating and the length of the event, are returning in force. Stand rentals have been reduced by 17%, the number of days has been cut from six to four and the opening hours have been extended. …read more
The final agreement for Google to scan out-of-print French language books for Hachette Livre, to be signed by mid-May, will be for a period of five years, the publishing group’s legal director Vianney de la Boulaye said.
He told the French monthly communications law review Légipresse that the pact was complementary to the Grey Zone (Zone Grise) project to scan unavailable 20th century works that is being steered by the culture ministry among French publishers, booksellers and authors and will be financed from public funds….read more
Barbara Casassus talks to the man from the ministry about a fixed-price for e-books in France
The French Culture Ministry hopes that a law allowing publishers to fix prices of electronic versions of print books will be on the statute books in France before next year’s Paris Book Fair
on March 18th-21st.
“This is an extremely ambitious target, but not totally impossible,” Nicolas Georges, the ministry’s director of books and reading, told The Bookseller….read more