Fixed book price safe in France

<p>Reform to the fixed book price in France would be &ldquo;imprudent&rdquo; according to MP for Savoie Herv&eacute; Gaymard, who has written a report into the 1981 Lang Law, following a five-month investigation.<br /><br />The report was endorsed on the eve of Paris&#39; Salon du Livre by culture minister Christine Albanel who said the law should be kept intact. It was called into question by two parliamentarians last year.</p><p>Gaymard said that the law has been &ldquo;incontestably positive&rdquo; and that reform &ldquo;would be imprudent&rdquo;. According to Gaymard, it has given the public &ldquo;equal access&rdquo; to books, has ensured a network of 3,500 independent bookshops in France and contrary to some claims has not been inflationary.</p><p>After five months of research and interviews with about 100 people in the UK, Germany and France, Gaymard advocated several measures to bolster the sector, including: permanent exemption from new payment periods, a single book delivery organisation, a computer system linking publishers and retailers to reduce print runs, returns and pulping, and a budget increase for the National Book Centre or CNL.<br /><br />&ldquo;A new law will be needed on digital book pricing, although we must first define a digital book,&rdquo; a ministry official said. Another battle on the horizon will be to reduce VAT on e-books and other<br />cultural products from 19.6%, the official said. Print books carry 5.5% in France.<br /><br />The priority was digitisation according to Gaymard, who said: &ldquo;there are more questions than certainties&rdquo; and that digitised literary books &quot;will not take off until there is an electronic reader equivalent to an iPod&quot;, Gaymard told <em>The Bookseller.</em> Gaymard came to the UK as part of the investigation, but declined to comment on how it was perceived to have fared since it scrapped its Net Book Agreement (NBA) in 1995.</p><p>After the third meeting of her advisory book council, Albanel said this week she should would ask for more cash for the CNL and announced three other measures to bolster books.</p><p>Starting in the autumn, a &quot;first pages&quot; reading kit will be given to the mother of each new-born baby and the first six debates in a two-year project to familiarise the public with the profession of publishing will be staged at the Salon du Livre, which opened today (Friday). In addition, a &lsquo;reading night&rsquo; will be held at the beginning of September, when plans for a revamped reading festival in 2010 will be announced.<br /></p>