Protest mounts over threat to Paris's Delamain

Protest mounts over threat to Paris's Delamain

Protest is mounting against the threatened closure of Paris’s oldest bookshop, Delamain.

The online book magazine ActuaLitté reported last week that the store, which is across the road from the Comédie Française in central Paris, is negotiating a new lease with the building’s owners, the Qatari-owned Constellation Hotels Holdings. Quoting an unidentified source, the daily newspaper Libération said that the investment fund wants to double the 90-square metre bookshop’s rent to more than €100,000 a year, which would be untenable in view of last year’s annual turnover of €1.6m.

Delamain, which was created in 1900, moved into its current premises in 1906, and became a subsidiary of publisher Gallimard in 1986.

The latest call to save the literary store comes from Angelo Rinaldi, a member of the French Academy. The author and journalist told the French daily newspaper Le Figaro that he would alert his academy colleagues to the problem on 25th September when they meet for the first time after the summer break.

Culture minister Fleur Pellerin visited the bookshop last week to assure the staff of her support. She might have run into one of her predecessors, Fréderique Mitterrand, who is reported to be a regular customer. Other regulars include Consitutional council president Jean-Louis Debré and former interior minister Pierre Joxe.

One idea floated by Le Figaro to save the shop would be turn it into a Paris city heritage. That was the step taken by former culture minister Jack Lang to save the Café de Flore when an American bank wanted to buy it in the 1980s.