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French publishers seek digital accord
25.09.09 | Barbara Casassus
French publisher La Martinière has said that it could yet team up with Hachette Livre in the distribution of digital books, but has ruled out disbanding Eden-Livres, its rival joint venture that it owns with Gallimard and Flammarion. French publishers have called for the trade to pool resources as the industry seeks to combat the twin threat of Amazon and Google.
La Martinière and Gallimard announced the creation of Eden-Livres at the Salon du Livre in Paris in March as a rival to Hachette's Numilog. Flammarion joined Eden-Livres later.
Hervé de la Martinière, chairman and chief executive of La Martinière Groupe, said: "It is out of the question for us to join Numilog." But, he added, "a joint distribution platform [for digital books] is possible. The more numerous we are, the better." He also said that he would discuss the issue with Hachette, but that no meeting is scheduled for the moment.
Since Eden-Livres was set up, both Hachette Livre and Editis, the second largest publishing group in France, have called for French publishers to pool their resources. Alain Kouck, Editis chief executive, led the call, telling La Tribune that a united front was the only way of blocking Amazon and Google.
Hachette Livre chief executive Arnaud Nourry recently said he would open Numilog's capital to outsiders and was prepared to relinquish majority control. He added that he was "optimistic" his offer would be taken up.
He declined to comment on La Martinière's remarks, but Ronald Blunden, senior vice-president corporate communications for Hachette Livre, said that Hachette was ready to "look at all solutions".