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Saving Paris's Oldest Bookstore

Saving Paris's Oldest Bookstore - Atlantic Mobile

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This tale is a familiar one to bibliophiles around the world, as the frail arsenals of independent bookstores surrender to the triple threat of Amazon, e-books, and competition from other media. Here in France, though, the story diverges from the script. Barely had the threat to Delamain been announced when author and journalist Angelo Rinaldi pledged to do all he could to prevent the bookstore’s closing. “It’s always when grandmother is sick that you realize how much you loved her,” he told Le Figaro last week. Rinaldi plans to spread the word among his colleagues at the Académie Française when it reconvenes on September 25.

Rinaldi was joined by the Minister of Culture herself, Fleur Pellerin, who visited the bookstore in person to assure the staff of her full support. The president of the Centre National du Livre, Vincent Monadé, demanded a meeting with Constellation Hotel Holdings. Several days later, the Hôtel du Louvre, feeling the pressure, released a statement saying that the Qatari holding company would take into consideration “the specific activity of its renter as well as the many years in which it has occupied the site.”

“I hope, now, that this is going to be translated into action,” said Monadé to Le Figaro.

It's difficult to imagine the shuttering of a bookstore causing a similar outcry anywhere else—not to mention direct government involvement in the matter of a private lease. This has something to do with what the French call l’exception culturelle. It doesn't just mean cultural exceptionalism; the phrase refers more precisely to the notion that cultural goods should not be subject to the whims of the free market—and should be protected from the homogenizing onslaught of global, and in particular American, cultural imperialism.

I love the sick grandmother comparison.:)

Yeah, that was a good analogy.