Thursday, 18 November 2010
Paris: they do things differently over there. On the very first metro I caught, the man standing next to me was reading Les Fleurs du Mal. There are more accordion-players (Alphonse, in Gabriel J’s Only Joking, would have company). There are a lot more independent bookshops: a thousand in Paris, and around 150 just in the district where Shakespeare & Co (above, with some tap-dancing going on in front of of the store) is located. (Compared to how many in London?) Which in turn enable small presses to get their books to more readers.
This doesn’t happen by accident. There are state subsidies; there are laws restricting discounting (to a maximum of something like 5%). The EU has a Common Agricultural Policy (whose aim, in the words of Wikipedia, is ‘to provide farmers with a reasonable standard of living, consumers with quality food at fair prices and to preserve rural heritage’). Please can we have a Common Bookstore Policy too?
I’ll post photos of the CBe reading at Sh & Co in the next day or so.