Books and the written word

International promotion of French books

Illust: (Photo : René Schulte, 61.5 kb, 350x227
(Photo : René Schulte / Fotolia)

Books represent France’s foremost cultural "industry", bringing in revenue of almost €3 billion a year. It is also a sector with a strongly international focus, as France’s second largest source of exports of cultural goods; 25% of French publishing revenue is generated on overseas markets.

Every year, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides support for French publishers operating on international markets. This support is based on a system of actions and programmes managed in Paris by the Institut Français for cultural action abroad, and on over 30 Bureaux du Livre (book offices) and media libraries across the cultural network deploying a local policy of support for French publishing and for partnership and cooperation with local structures.

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs also supports French publishers exhibiting at overseas book fairs and salons, working closely with the industry federation, the Bureau International de l’Edition Française (BIEF). Their joint aim is to foster and promote French and Francophone ideas, works, authors and publishers as a means of ensuring that French publishing continues to hold its own in a highly competitive cultural marketplace.

MAE support takes the form of various projects implemented by the Institut Français:

  • Books in translation: grants towards the translation and distribution of books published in French; training new generations of translators from French into target languages (English, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian); creation of an online resource centre for works translated into other languages.
  • Encouraging intellectual debate: formulating a new, "soft" diplomacy; fostering debate, disseminating information on new intellectual scenes in France (particularly in the field of human and social sciences) to academic networks abroad.
  • Promoting scientific culture: organising prestigious travelling exhibitions to promote French scientific culture (archaeology and natural sciences); creating an online expertise and resource centre; supporting operations initiated by France’s network of embassies and consulates.
  • Supporting Francophone publishing channels: setting up aid programmes for publishing in the Global South (licensing and distribution); creating collections of works published in the Global South and promoting them on global markets, both North and South; redesigning the resource centre covering authors, publishers and major cultural events in the Francophone Global South.
  • Supporting France’s cultural and cooperation network, media libraries and staff training: creating Bureaux du Livre and media libraries to implement programmes and campaigns in support of French publishing; developing digital technology in media libraries via the Culturethèque platform or IFVerso (a database of over 70,000 titles translated from French into some forty other languages, presented in the form of a social network).

The Priority Solidarity

Fund In the late 1970s, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs introduced a specific cooperation mechanism devoted primarily to programmes of institutional support and reinforcement for civil society, the Priority Solidarity Fund (FSP). The fund finances operations and development aid projects put forward by various Ministry departments on a multi-year basis, in order to support their work by concrete action on the ground. Though traditionally focused primarily on sub-Saharan Africa, cooperation in the field of books and reading has gradually been strengthened and extended to Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean rim.

New programmes are now providing support for the promotion of authors, publishers, distributors and bookshops in Francophone areas:

  • aid with licensing and joint North/South publishing is helping publishers in the French-speaking Global South (Africa and Caribbean) to license the rights to works by their native authors already published in France, so that they can be published and distributed at prices affordable on the local market.
  • a specific product line, "100 titres pour Haïti" (100 titles for Haiti), has been created to support publication of fiction and non-fiction works by Haitian authors. The richness of Francophone literature from the Global South has to be preserved, maintained and protected. This is the mission performed by the review.

Every year at the Paris Book Fair, a bookshop from the Global South (Africa and the Caribbean) is selected to act as a showcase for Francophone literature for the duration of the event.

Update : 16.01.13