lenook CrunchGear points to a Reuters story about efforts by five major French bookstore chains to set up a “national e-book platform” to pre-empt invasion by Amazon and Google. They have asked the government and publishers to help in this effort.

However, France’s largest publisher, Hachette Livre, is notably skeptical, saying that publishers and booksellers do not always have the same interests.

France has always been touchy about foreign cultural influences—most famously maintaining an organization tasked with coming up with French equivalents to foreign-language loan words. French interests have also sued Google Books over the unauthorized scanning of French-published titles (and won) before coming to an agreement to work with them.

CrunchGear’s Devin Coldewey points out that the retail chains in question are chain stores run by multinational interests (who have probably been gouging the publishers for years). As for cultural preservation, Coldewey asks the rhetorical question, “[H]ow much culture do you feel the US lost when Circuit City closed?”

I suspect that the retailers’ efforts are probably doomed to failure at this point. Amazon and Google just have too much momentum, and it is doubtful the publishers have as much to lose as the retailers who are seeking their help. Either way, they will still be selling their books.


  1. The real interest, of course, is not cultural but economic and political.
    That and the dawning awarness that they face a choice between Amazon-owned Mobi format (adding salt to the wound is that Mobipocket *used* to be french-owned) and Adobe-controlled ePub. The idea that all ebooks carry american wrappers is not one the french will long stomache.
    So, I would expect them to take the matter to the EU and start suing american companies again. Just to slow things down until they can come up with a PAL ebook format. Of course, the could just adopt FB2 (with an Alcatel DRM scheme) if the socialists were in power. 😉
    Realistically, the only way to protect terriorial right in the long haul is with incompatible territorial DRM regimes as they do with DVDs. Since neither Amazon nor Adobe provide for that in the files (which they woud be stupid to do) the only solution is a new politicaly mandated DRM regime.

    Yes, ebooks are coming of age; they are now important enough for the brusselcrats and politicians to notice.

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail newteleread@gmail.com.