The Paris Book Fair (Salon du livre) constitutes an important time of the year for publishers, booksellers and authors. People are paying to get inside this giant bookshop and buy books, but the Salon du Livre is also a professional fair where publishers and booksellers are being informed about the new developments in the book industry.
The final figures of the Salon du Livre show an increase of 5% compared to 2011, with 190 000 visitors from the 16-19 of March, according to Reed Expositions France. More than 36 000 visitors were students, a rise of 30% since last year. A little more than 30 000 were professionals, with representatives from 40 countries; 2000 were authors that participated in more than 500 meetings organized during the four days of the Salon du Livre.
However, the Salon du Livre showed once again its taste in an international literature with multiple faces: authors from Moscow, illustrators from Buenos Aires, Romania representing a conference on the literary vagrancy of Panaït Istrati and more specifically the Japanese literature and culture.
Japan was the country guest of honour, one year after the disaster, and Kenzaburô Oê, Japan’s second winner of Nobel Prize of Literature was celebrated properly. In addition, the manga hero Naruto celebrates his 10 years of circulation this year and since France is the country the more “Naruto maniac” with 1.5 million copies sold, fans came to see the cosplay parade and support the manga culture. Different activities took place at the Japanese Pavilion, demonstrating the culture of the country: tea ceremony of Sadoh, demonstration of ikebana (floral art), calligraphy, language lessons and kimono trying.
The fair was crowded with people trying their books signed by their favourite French authors. Between them, François Holland that signed 200 copies in one hour and a half, Daniel Pennac that signed also 200 copies of this new novel Journal d’un corps, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, Katherine Pancol, Amélie Nothomb and many others.
Despite the commercial success of the Salon du Livre, publishers and booksellers are concerned about the digital evolution of the book industry and the role of the giant players on it. Amazon occupied a big stand at the Salon du Livre in partnership with Géant Casino, supermarket chain and Virgin Megastore who are handling the Kindle distribution since last autumn. Amazon sold hundreds of Kindles at the price of 79 euros. Four other e-readers were present at the Salon du livre: Kobo in partnership with Fnac, Sony was presenting mostly its new touch colour tablet with 20 magazines and 10 comics at the price of 399 euros, Chapitre.com with the cheapest e-reader in the fair at 55euros of the German manufacturer Trekstor and the Odissey, a French e-reader proposed by Bookeen with E-ink, wifi, touch screen at 130 euros. In addition, Google announced the opening of its digital bookshop the night of the inauguration, increasing the concerns of the booksellers.
In conclusion, the Paris Book Fair was a success in number of sales and visitors. The digital publishing occupied a great part of the fair despite the fact that e-books sales represent only a 2% of the book market in France. Publishers and booksellers seem to handle the changes during the digital evolution in the book industry and are taking into consideration suggestions of the readers that attended their public round-table discussions.
– Chrysothemis Armefti