French culture minister calls for single digital platform

<p>French Culture Minister Fr&eacute;d&eacute;ric Mitterrand today (30th September) called for a permanent exemption from shorter payment periods for booksellers in France and a single French digitial book distribution platform.<br /><br />In his first speech on the book sector since he took office in June, he said he would take a decision on whether the French National Library (BNF) should commission Google to digitise some of its books and documents when he has &quot;all the technical elements&quot; at his disposal, and the media frenzy has calmed down.<br /><br />But he said that he planned a &quot;major project&quot; that would help boost the European digital library Europeana. The project would be financed from a government bond issue that is now in the pipeline. However, competition for cash will be strong as the budget deficit and debt continue to soar.<br /><br />Mitterrand also announced three studies on digitised books that should be completed before the end of next March. They will cover utilisation by readers, a new economic model and piracy.<br /><br />Booksellers now have a phased stay of execution from the new rules on payment periods, but like all other sectors are supposed to come into line by 2012. Permanent exemption would be &quot;good sense&quot;, Mitterrand told representatives of all players in the book chain.<br /><br />As for a single digital book distributor, operators are increasing in number rather than the contrary. At the end of last week, Harmattan, which supplied most of the digital works offered by Hachette Livre subsidiary Numilog, announced that it was launching its own distribution platform for digitised books and articles.</p>