French bookshops revolt after prize selects novel self-published on Amazon

French bookshops revolt after prize selects novel self-published on Amazon

French booksellers have called on literary judges to “defend books and not those who threaten them”, after one of France’s most prestigious prizes selected a self-published novel available only via Amazon.

Among the 17 titles in contention for this year’s Prix Renaudot is Marco Koskas’ Bande de Français, which was self-published on Amazon’s CreateSpace platform. According to the Syndicat de la librairie française, which represents French booksellers, the jury have put them in an impossible position.

The French-Israeli author, who has published more than a dozen books via more traditional routes, told the Guardian he was forced into put out an edition of Bande de Français himself after no French publisher picked it up.

The Syndicat warned that including Bande de Français on the Renaudot longlist “does a disservice to the author himself, as well as to booksellers, and is a worrying sign for the future of book creation and distribution”.

Far from fearing that the jury had done him a disservice, Koskas declared himself “amused and proud” to find himself picked out, adding that the Syndicat’s call for him to be excluded was a “great lack of fair play, not to say blackmail”.

“I know that booksellers cannot turn against all the publishers who rejected me – there are too many,” he said. “But they’re turning against Amazon, who published me. That makes no sense. Amazon offers authors a much more flexible contract than publishers, and above all, Amazon has no literary opinion. That is important. They do not get involved with what I write. They don’t ask for money to print my book, and they are paid, like any matchmaker, when the product sells. What do I have to complain about?”

Interestingly though the book only appears to be available in print and not ebook. It's something we're going to see more and more of. The same creative content but alternative channels and mediums to consume it. The Canne Film Festival has a similar issue not wanting to grant awards to streamed movies such as Netflix which do not appear in a cinema. Why should such a movie be any less worthy than one shown in a cinema? It often seems to be more about protecting a channel / publishing medium than the creative content itself.


French bookshops revolt after prize selects novel self-published on Amazon | Books | The Guardian

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