The president of the National Book Center, explains its sector support plan, including its territorial and digital components

Vincent Monad, 44, was named the president of the National Book Center (CNL) there two months. A former bookseller, director of Design (Book Observatory and written in Ile-de-France) from 2008 to 2012, then ministerial adviser, he defends support for an independent bookstore, which he has a bright future she.

How do you see the future of the library?

I refuse defeatism. The book is in crisis and I hope the industry will leave in 2014. The French are very attached to the book. As to the question of online sales, the proposed law on the postage [that prevents Amazon to circumvent down the book price, note], adopted this week by the National Assembly, will enable a rebalancing economic market. Amazon has enabled the customer to take the book home. But booksellers can offer an extra service. Tomorrow they may have agreements with their distributors for the book arrives at the home of stamped player “bookstore”. We still have time to be innovative. I am very optimistic because the libraries are the only combine local and global offering. Having a shop make them stronger, not to compete with a multinational. I do not believe that a market kills the other, the partially dry. A market accompanies the other. This is an addition an subtraction. The general public will not go in bookstores by militancy but because it offered a better service.

Chapter network is in bankruptcy. Is it not a sign of the difficulties the library?

There are libraries that are doing very well. The one near my home in Levallois (Hauts-de-Seine), achieved 14% more sales in November and 7% more on the year. There’s also that go so well, yet they are held by good booksellers. Paris is a somewhat privileged area. indeed there has been a slowdown in sales. But the total chains tumble, as Virgin Chapter is due to a succession of choices that transform independent bookstores, with a thought and offer fixed, in places almost without more funds, with the same everywhere bestsellers. It is hoped hold well, but it does not work.

But the government decided in March to provide fresh money to the bookstore …

There is the economic crisis and the rise of selling paper books over the Internet. And it’s not because of the digital book, which virtually does not exist in this country. But the library remains in the end after the sector that best resists. In reality, there is more impact: the sharp rise of new players who have gone to 12% of the market (Amazon, FNAC), concomitant with the crisis that causes a decrease in the average basket, and a civilizational crisis that the number of large players runs out. So three impacts: a new entrant, an economic crisis and a change of civilization. The government’s plan is very important to help pass this crisis. It is not intended to be permanent. Once the storm passed, the independent bookstore has a bright future ahead of her. It’s fascinating, the ability of booksellers to try to reinvent new practices, new services. A new generation of booksellers grows, that will be as inventive as those of the 80 My mission is to help with my limited resources, the center of the book to pass the crisis. After five years, nearly 40 million more have been granted to the sector to pass this bad moment.

Where are we in the implementation of the plan announced last Paris Book Fair?

Payments will take place in January, I just signed agreements with the Association for the Development of the creation of library (Adelc) and the Institute for the financing of film and cultural industries (Ifcic). The credit agency will manage 5 of 9 million euros as a guarantee of support funds for loans of one year. The library, seasonal activity, may encounter financial difficulties. And the remaining 4 million are supported by Adelc for the recovery and transmission. Moreover, the CNL grants to libraries every year to € 3.96 million, to which I have just added 2 million for recoveries and transmissions. They will also be devolved to local conventions.

Territorial agreements?

I’ll start conducting work with the regions in 2014 in the image of what the CNC (National Film Center) had done it a few years ago. This approach will treat tissue “local bookstores.” Example, if Saint-Brieuc (Côtes d’Armor), we’re supporting, closed tomorrow, there would be no independent bookstore in the area of creation. Our action will help the territorial network. However, if a library is not profitable, it is useless to put on a drip. The support will likely be in the form of loans and grants. If one believes in bookstores, we believe in their ability to repay loans.

Why 2 million more?

We must be able to expand the categories that are to be supported. A large library of territory that sells a lot of stationery and only generates 45% of its turnover in books, can not be sustained today [a minimum of 50% is required, note]. But if she goes, there is more than 40 kilometers away. We must, therefore, be able to help thanks to a small loan. This is the purpose of the fund shared with the regions, the mechanism has worked well in the cinema.

And support to digital?

It is increasingly important. The annual budget digital aids the NLC was € 10 million, including 6 million who go to the BNF for the digitization of printed heritage and development of Gallica [digital library with free access to the BNF, note]. We will involve up to 9 million euros in Reread (registry books unavailable in electronic reprint) that deals with the digitization of titles unavailable. We will support platforms like the project digital library loan (GNP). My intention is to encourage the development of innovative library initiatives.
And for the library?

For now, the digital book represents only 1.5% of the market. Meanwhile, we must support innovative initiatives but not necessarily sustainable in the long term, what the NLC made already. My idea is to allow all libraries that are not on the Internet to benefit from a little help through inter portals that allow them to have an online existence.

How do you intervene in Chapter?

The NLC has always said he would support case by case. There is no question of going support of bad records. At this stage, the times of Rennes, Toulouse-Medicine, Toulouse, Mont-Saint-Aignan, and Dax had been written down before filing for bankruptcy. If necessary, I make a letter to the liquidator to say whether the NLC is ready to support or not a recovery. Including if publishers are buyers, like, for example, in the case of Nancy with Gallimard. Our concern is to maintain independent quality bookstores in city cores. I do not exclude that owners expect the sale to the bar to buy. But there are also wacky projects. I just refuse the candidacy of a businessman who wants to invest three francs six under and make us pay for the renovation. Qu’Actissia [the owner of the BWB Group, note] does not say tomorrow that it is the fault of the NLC if some are not repeated. In fifteen years, they have been broken with stupid strategic policy: the centralization of controls, creating a holistic logistics unit, the installation of an accounting department so bright that everyone is planted ten years later. So certainly not blackmail the independent bookstore from a US shareholder is a pension fund. We will take good records kept by solid and serious people. The only thing that proves Chapter is that the future of the library is in the independent bookstore that makes choices. Not in these centralized management chains.

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