The containment measures resulting from the coronavirus epidemic have shut down the cultural industry in France. The booksellers have closed their doors and the publishers have pushed back the release of their new products. In particular those of the best-sellers, books with strong commercial potential, a major challenge for publishing houses. "Electronic commerce for books in France is quite low," explains Manuel Carcassonne, director of Stock editions. "The social and economic truth of this job is that it will only start all over again when the bookstores reopen."
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Bestsellers await the start
If the reopening of bookstores should be effective on May 11, the beginning of the announced progressive deconfinement, the publishers do not intend to release their new products from this date. A compromise must be found to allow the points of sale to prepare. Thus, it will be May 20 for the new detective novel by Bernard Minier, published by XO, La Vallée , initially scheduled for April 2. The author takes over his recurring hero, Martin Servaz, for an investigation into a series of murders in a place cut off from the world.
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On May 26, the French heavyweight Guillaume Musso also returns with La vie est un roman , at Calmann-Lévy's. And the next day, Joël Dicker will publish his new novel, The enigma of room 622 , an investigation into a cold-case in a palace in the Alps. The new work by the author of The Harry Quebert affair was scheduled for March 25, but the editions of Fallois announced a postponement to May 27.
Finally, on June 3 at Lattès, an international heavyweight will be back: Patricia Cornwell, the author of one hundred million copies sold. With Quantum, she starts a new series with a new heroine.
Books, the only cultural novelties of the summer
Stock editions have postponed the release of 60 to 70% of the new products planned. Manuel Carcassonne hopes to be able to publish a strong work from May 27: the memoirs of Woody Allen. "A book that I have advertised a lot and that will be surrounded by a lot of promotion," he adds. The publication of these memoirs had caused scandal, the director being accused of sexual abuse by his adopted daughter. An American subsidiary of the Hachette publishing house had abandoned this publication last March, in the United States.
Observers estimate that 700 new books are expected to be released at the end of containment or in the coming months. "This is the best we can do to help the bookstore both by reducing the outings, but also by giving them important novelties which allow them to rebuild turnover before the summer, and I hope especially during the summer, "says Manuel Carcassonne.
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"The book will be the only cultural industry that will operate from mid-May, the only novelty that the French will have in terms of culture. There will be no cinema, no exhibitions, no concerts," recalls he.
Stock editions have also bet on the novelty by acquiring the confinement journal of the Chinese author Fang Fang, living in Wuhan, at the heart of the epidemic. A book "with great sensitivity and power", says Manuel Carcassonne. "It is a very strong book, we are trying to get it out as quickly as possible, that is to say at the end of August at the beginning of September." The latter was accused of treason in China after selling her manuscript to an American literary agent.