November 12, 2014

Should the United States Follow France and Declare Books an ‘Essential Good’?

The French Government has declared books an “essential good.” Daniel Mendelsohn and Mohsin Hamid in the NYT yesterday explore the idea of doing the same thing in the U.S. Here is a brief excerpt:

Whatever the cultural reasons, books in France are indeed an “essential good” — the designation coined by the French government that served to justify the very concrete steps it has taken over the years to protect its precious literary culture. The most prominent of these are laws outlawing the advantages (deep discounting combined with free shipping) that big chains and Amazon enjoy over independent booksellers in the United States and other countries. These help explain a phenomenon that inevitably strikes American visitors to France today: As even big chains such as Borders and Barnes & Noble have faltered here, every block in central Paris seems to sprout at least two small, intelligently stocked bookshops.

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