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Old 03-28-2013, 04:49 PM   #16
EowynCarter
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Originally Posted by Yolina View Post
Being French I'd like to add that by law in France the price of books is set by the publishers - it's been like that for yonks apart for a short period in the early or mid 80s IIRC. Retailers are allowed to discount but only by up to 5%.

The downside of this is that obviously books can be a tad expensive, and having now been in the UK for nearly 20 years, I sometimes balk slightly at the price of French books (I do buy quite a few, be it paper or kindle format) The upside is that the small local independent bookshops are able to still operate and I think, to a certain extent also that the publishers are more willing to put out a wider variety of books. So I can see the government trying to help the small independents now that ebooks are getting popular but which they obviously can't provide unlike the big companies like the FNAC or Amazon
There's a small town there I go to regularly which only has one tiny, tiny bookshop, but it's absolutely crammed full of interesting books, not just the bestsellers (I found the complete works of Khalil Gibran in there...) and prices are obviously not that different from the large FNAC in the nearest big town.

So, yes I can see both sides of the coin really, particularly as people there are quite attached to their small independent shops (of any type)
One of the good side is you can go anywhere, and just pay the book the same price.
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Old 03-28-2013, 06:06 PM   #17
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So, yes I can see both sides of the coin really, particularly as people there are quite attached to their small independent shops (of any type)
The attachment is something that I can understand. We don't have many independent bookshops in Canada, outside of the big cities, but used book stores still exist in many places. The selection is amazing and they tend to know their books.

Those who shop in the big box stores probably don't know what they're missing. Every time I walk into one of those stores I bump into a table of the current best seller, instead of a shelf crammed with a hundred different titles. Then I bump into a series of tables that have stacks of 20 different titles, instead of more shelves crammed with a hundred more titles. When I finally make it to the section I want all of the books look bewilderingly similar. It's all authors imitating each other, hoping that you'll randomly select them over the next guy.

But the small bookstores are different. I love used book stores because you have so many choices from so many eras. If I'm in the mood for 1950's science fiction, it's sitting next to a science fiction book written in 2010. If I'm in the mood for the philosophy of science, I can pick up a book from 1960 as well as one from 1990. The proprietor of the last shop I visited knew that I was a teacher, so he pointed out some (cheap) textbooks from the 1920's.

When I was in the big city, there were plenty of independent book stores. My favourite was one that specialized in education and child development. They had a multitude of titles on every title, the authors presented ideas from different perspectives, and many of the authors presented conflicting ideas. The staff were also enormously helpful. They knew what was on the shelves, and they knew what they could get from their suppliers. (Heck, they even knew what they could not get from their suppliers.)

The small book stores are worth saving. Unfortunately, it's tough for them to survive because the market is designed for mediocrity.
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Old 03-28-2013, 06:15 PM   #18
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I loved my local little independent bookstore. Owner and employees were knowledgeable and helpful.

But they were small with limited shelf space and many of the books I wanted to read needed to ordered and picked up later.

The world has changed. There are many places to find knowledgeable and helpful people (here...!!) and I can order books online to be immediately delivered to my Kindle or arrived two days later with Prime if only available in paper.

I do feel sorry for those folks whose stores went under with the rise of the big box stores and I feel for those struggling now, but I wouldn't want to go back to the past.
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Old 03-28-2013, 07:23 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by fjtorres View Post
In practice, the French ebook market is sorely underdeveloped. I have tried to buy works by well-known authors from the FNAC and Amazon.fr, only to find that the English translations are available as digital downloads, but not the originals. The shame!

France unfortunately has the dubious distinction of being the country, of all Western nations, whose population is the most indifferent to electronic reading.

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Originally Posted by Yolina
The downside of this is that obviously books can be a tad expensive, and having now been in the UK for nearly 20 years, I sometimes balk slightly at the price of French books (I do buy quite a few, be it paper or kindle format)
Perhaps you are being hit by import duties? Books in France are ridiculously cheap compared to their equivalents in North America. I have rarely seen an édition de poche sell for more than 10 €, and the concept of the $50 hardcover first edition simply does not exist as it does in the anglophone publishing world.

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When I was in the big city, there were plenty of independent book stores. My favourite was one that specialized in education and child development. They had a multitude of titles on every title, the authors presented ideas from different perspectives, and many of the authors presented conflicting ideas. The staff were also enormously helpful. They knew what was on the shelves, and they knew what they could get from their suppliers. (Heck, they even knew what they could not get from their suppliers.)
Snipped for length, but good post. The tendency of mature industries to coalesce around 2 or 3 major players leads to a homogenization of taste, most often arbitrated by the lowest common denominator. I'm in Paris at the moment and the sheer diversity of bookstores is breathtaking. In the 5th arrondissement, which is admittedly the student quarter, you can find bookstores so specialized that they only deal in books on physical geography, or law, or Canadian history and culture. Even when more general in subject matter, there is often an evident care in the selection of titles that expresses a genuine enthusiasm for the medium, not just a ROI calculation. I'm disgusted when I walk into a Borders or a Chapters and the first thing I see is rows of tables covered in baubles and knick-knacks meant for home decoration and last-minute gifts.

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Old 03-28-2013, 08:26 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by holymadness View Post

Perhaps you are being hit by import duties? Books in France are ridiculously cheap compared to their equivalents in North America. I have rarely seen an édition de poche sell for more than 10 €, and the concept of the $50 hardcover first edition simply does not exist as it does in the anglophone publishing world.
No import duty within EU countries it's just that books in the UK are on the whole stupidly cheap (and the paper editions are VAT-free). Edition de poche is good value - it's mass market paperback - but there's a lot of stuff that does set you back rather more. Recently bought "Qui résiste à la peste résiste au diable" by Jusuf Buxhovi and that was about €20 for the Kindle edition (paper version only available as Broché at €25.)

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In the 5th arrondissement, which is admittedly the student quarter, you can find bookstores so specialized that they only deal in books on physical geography, or law, or Canadian history and culture. Even when more general in subject matter, there is often an evident care in the selection of titles that expresses a genuine enthusiasm for the medium, not just a ROI calculation. I'm disgusted when I walk into a Borders or a Chapters and the first thing I see is rows of tables covered in baubles and knick-knacks meant for home decoration and last-minute gifts.
I do find UK bookshops on the whole rather depressing to be honest - it's all the bestselling stuff and not much else. I never quite got used to that and the general tendency that has been growing in the UK over the years of mostly having chains for everything - restaurants, clothes shops, bookshops, everything is just the same everywhere. In that respect I think I am still very French

Last edited by Yolina; 03-28-2013 at 08:33 PM.
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Old 03-28-2013, 09:50 PM   #21
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I never quite got used to that and the general tendency that has been growing in the UK over the years of mostly having chains for everything - restaurants, clothes shops, bookshops, everything is just the same everywhere. In that respect I think I am still very French
Then you should see Canada. I've been on both coasts, and to several cities in between. Even though it's a 5000 km expanse, many of the chains are the same. If it is not the same in name, it has the same parent company. That being said, there are some regional chains.

That isn't to say there is a void of independent businesses. They thrive in Toronto, and (to a lesser degree) in Vancouver. They also seem to thrive in certain sectors of the economy. If you're looking for a store or a restaurant though, good luck. These independents exist, but you'd be hard pressed to find them. Sometimes it takes wandering down side streets or alley ways or the sub-levels of office towers just to discover them.
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