With the Paris Book Fair opening today (21st March), the nation’s authors are once more up in arms.
A number of issues are causing alarm and despondency, according to the Permanent Council of Writers, which claims to represent tens of thousands of authors through its member organisations.
Exactly a year ago, authors were celebrating signature of an agreement with publishers over digital and print rights after three years of stop-start negotiations, but the pact has since become mired in European bureaucracy and French parliamentary logjams, and is unlikely to take effect until September at the earliest.
On top of that, authors complain that advances and royalties are declining, that VAT has been “inexplicably” raised, and that authors’ rights are at risk in the European Commission’s reform plans.
In addition, they are worried about the spread of self-censorship for children’s books in the wake of controversies over Tous à Poil, (or Everybody Naked), the Editions du Rouergue children’s book on gender theory, gay marriage and parentage which was heavily criticised by opposition leader Jean-François Copé. The result could be a no-risk editorial policy that ignores the social issues of the day, France’s authors have warned.
The fair was inaugurated last night (20th) by French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Cristina Kirchner, president of Argentina, PBF’s country of honour. Of note is Amazon’s return to the fair this year. It exhibited for the first time in 2012, to the fury of some professionals, but cancelled in 2013.
Also notable is the absence of Electre, Livres Hebdo’s publisher. “Since fewer and fewer professionals attend the fair, we wanted to reduce the size of our stand slightly, but unfortunately the organiser’s proposal was unacceptable,” Livres Hebdo editor-in-chief Christine Ferrand said.