Promoting French books abroad


Books are a French cultural industry targeting an international audience: 18.5% of French publishers’ sales are generated in foreign markets.

Alongside partners in the sector and institutional partners such as the Bureau International de l’Édition Française (BIEF) and the Institut Français, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs is working to promote French literature and thought abroad.

The Role of the Ministry

The Ministry’s policy aims to:

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

Support French publishers abroad. In close collaboration with the Bureau International de l’Édition Française, the Ministry is working to encourage and promote publishers from France and French-speaking countries so that they can maintain their exporting momentum in a highly competitive environment.

Defending the French cultural model. The French cultural model carries particular weight in the world of literature and writing; it spans the globe and is the envy of many of our partners. The Ministry and cultural and cooperation network are also promoting and defending French positions on the safeguarding of copyrights, cultural diversity and the sharing of proceeds.

Promoting French cultural expertise at a time of growing demand. Major French cultural institutions including the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Archives de France and even the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel are offering training courses and providing specific expertise. In the area of cultural engineering, our major literary festivals and events can be exported abroad.

Implementing a diplomacy of ideas and knowledge. It is in intellectual exchanges that we can exert influence and boost our appeal. By translating the works of our authors and our intellectuals, through a meeting of minds and imaginations, the Ministry is working to see France play a role in the international realm of ideas.

The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs tasked the Institut Français, its external cultural action agency in charge of managing actions and programmes, with promoting French books to be exported.

These actions are conducted through the Ministry’s cultural and cooperation network. At the heart of this network some 30 specialized literature offices:

  • Serve as hubs of expertise and channels of influence for all of the French stakeholders, both public and private, in the book and publishing industry and literary and intellectual circles;
  • Advise local stakeholders in the book chain (publishers, translators, book stores, etc.) and financially support their action to translate and circulate French books;
  • Ensure a strong presence of French authors and publishers at gatherings with potential purchasers (professional meetings, festivals, fairs, etc.).

The Role of the Institut Français

The missions of the Institut Français are to:

Promote the translation of French literature. The Institut Français and the cultural network are implementing programmes such as the Programme d’aide à la publication and La Fabrique des Traducteurs assisting in the transfer of copyright and translation as well as training new translators.

Promote authors. In liaison with foreign publishers and with the support of the Institut Français, the cultural network improves the visibility of translated literary works by inviting their authors to high-profile literary events.

Encourage meetings of cultural and creative industries. The Institut Français is working to facilitate linkages between literature, cinema, radio, television and digital sectors. Organized by the Société Civile des Editeurs de Langue Française (SCELF), the Institut Français and the Bureau International de l’Édition Française at the International Cannes Film Festival, ‘Shoot the Book!’ is an event for French publishers and international producers where they can meet and discuss opportunities for adapting French books into films.

Ensure that French voices are heard in debates being held in foreign civil societies relying on close coordination of human and social sciences, debates on ideas and scientific culture. The programmes that the Institut Français is implementing lie at the crossroads between professional and lay people and are conducted in constant dialogue with academic and scientific institutions in France and abroad. The Institut Français has initiated the Nuit des Idées and supports its development across the cultural network.

Supporting up-and-coming projects of young people from civil society. Focused on social and cultural entrepreneurship and new actors in our society, the Institut Français ‘Labs’ see themselves as laboratories for creation and reflection, training incubators and support systems abroad. They provide strategic support to all the future drivers in the economic, social and cultural life of their countries.

Supporting the network of French media libraries abroad. There is a network of more than 500 media libraries in the Instituts Français, Alliances Françaises and binational institutions. These media libraries provide places for language learning, culture, meetings, debates, and documentary resources and fully participate in France’s outreach and attractiveness policy. The Institut Français initiated the Culturethèque project, a portal of digital resources intended
for media library members of the network.

Updated: October 2017