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A FURTHER TALE OF TWO CITIES: BOOKSELLING TODAY IN LONDON AND PARIS

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Abstract

Europe's largest cities, provide us with a thought-provoking example of the state of bookselling today. Both cities of books, a source of inspiration for countless writers, past and present, they themselves enable the circulation of ideas through the book trade. However, London as a cultural and multicultural centre no longer seems to have a bookselling network worthy of a great city. It presents a topography that is full of contrasts, harbouring the two large retailers Waterstones Piccadilly and Foyles on Charing Cross Road, as well as a declining number of independent bookshops dotted across London's boroughs. By contrast, Paris offers a totally different picture. While also adversely affected, it still presents a varied bookshop scene of mainly independent outlets concentrated in some parts of the city. This article looks at the various factors (books' retail price, legal background, subsidies, online bookselling, e-readers, rent rises…) affecting the book trade in the two cities and their impact on the changing maps of literary London and Paris. It looks, through selected examples, at the place of bookshops in their neighbourhood and their interaction with their community. We ask what these bookshops tell us about the two cities; and how in each case they help to shape the cities and how are themselves shaped by them. The book trade, and the bookshop as unique space, are of great historical and cultural importance in both cities. We argue that bookselling is up against many local and global challenges in the present day, and is therefore facing some of the toughest challenges of its history-challenges which have transformed the literary face of both capital cities.
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Dates and versions

hal-02471165 , version 1 (07-02-2020)

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  • HAL Id : hal-02471165 , version 1

Cite

Pascale Villate, Paris London. A FURTHER TALE OF TWO CITIES: BOOKSELLING TODAY IN LONDON AND PARIS. Books and the City, Jun 2016, Maastricht, Netherlands. ⟨hal-02471165⟩
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