"Major change" predicted for French e-book market

"Major change" predicted for French e-book market

An advisory body to the French prime minister has predicted that e-books are about to shake up the book sector, and has called for a series of measures to help authors, publishers, booksellers and public libraries cope with the upheaval.
 
E-books still represent barely 1% of the market in France, against 15% in the United States and 10% in the United Kingdom, but “a major change is about to occur” said the Strategic Analysis Centre (CAS). The e-book “will shake up the traditional book sector and its actors".
 
Although this “does not mean that we will no longer read printed books tomorrow", e-books will benefit from the continuing success of reading devices and tablets. World iPad sales reached 15 million units in the last quarter of 2011, and tactile tablet sales in France totaled 450,000 in December alone.
 
The CAS recommendations, drawn up with the help of the National Book Centre (CNL), are aimed to develop e-books in France, while preserving the book sector and editorial diversity. They include attractive prices for e-books, a single e-book distribution platform in France, and better interoperability. For booksellers, whose margins have been seriously squeezed in recent years, the CAS advocates a “multichannel” strategy, combining bricks and mortar with online sales to counter “the web giants".
 
But independents are not alone to fall on hard times. The FNAC chain is laying off 510 staff, and Virgin is planning to close at least two outlets, in Metz and Toulouse. Rumours have been circulating that it will abandon its flagship store on the Champs Elysées, and Livres Hebdo reported yesterady (21st March) that the opening of its new concept store at the Saint-Lazare station in Paris has been delayed for lack of official authorisation.