French Booksellers Lose Their Shit Over a Self-Published Book Being Considered for the Prix Renaudot
Booksellers have many reasons to dislike Amazon, the least of which is that it is better at selling books than they are.
This has spurred many booksellers to blacklist Amazon-published books, and now that irrational hatred has been expanded to include not just Amazon but also anyone who uses Amazon’s services.
Booksellers are furious a novel distributed only by Amazon has made it onto the long-list for one of France’s top literary prizes, saying it rewards the goliath that threatens both their livelihood and the country’s heritage.
… one of the country’s top literary prizes – the Prix Renaudot – has sparked similar outrage among bookstores this week by selecting a novel distributed by their mortal foe Amazon.
The book, Bande de Français by French-Israeli author Marco Koskas, was included in a long-list of seven essays and 17 novels competing for the Renaudot, generally regarded as the second most prestigious French-language prize after the Goncourt. It is self-published and available only on Amazon – unless bookstores choose to order it from the online platform, a step many are loath to take.
“Do they want us to pay our most ferocious competitor? To give him money so he can kill us?” asked Mélanie Le Saux, a bookseller in the Paris region who posted an open letter on Facebook on Sunday in which she blasted the Renaudot jury for “throwing the door wide open to the beast”.
“Either we buy the book from our competitor, or we just won’t have it,” Le Saux told FRANCE 24. “It’s a very strong signal: Amazon has won their blessing.”
Just to be clear, this is not a book published by Amazon; this is a self-published book which is being distributed through Createspace.
Some booksellers have already vowed that, prestigious award or not, they will not be ordering this book. No, fighting Amazon matters more than championing French literature, which is why several booksellers have called for a boycott of the Prix Renaudot this year.
The Syndicat de la librairie française, the trade group for French bookstores, has published a statement both condemning the Prix Renaudot jury and showing they suffer from Amazon Derangement Syndrome.
“With this decision, does the Prix Renaudot realize it is doing a disservice to the author himself and to bookshops, as well as sending a worrying signal for the future of the industry?” the statement read. The Syndicat added: “How deceitful and sinister Amazon’s dream world is. No more hierarchy between works, reduced to mere usernames on a platform; no editorial policy but millions of titles accumulated haphazardly; no books in lively areas of ‘commerce’; no people hired to bring works and authors to readers; warehouses and a sophisticated algorithm instead of spoken words.”
Apparently the Syndicat believes that no other publisher or distributor uses warehouses, or software, or any type of automation to produce and distribute books. No, only Amazon uses technology; all other books are delivered by fairies after springing fully formed from the brow of their noble creators.
Why is it that so many of Amazon’s detractors are so blinded by their hatred that they lose their ability to think critically or make a coherent argument?
The thing is, there is no good argument to be made for blacklisting this book. It was not published by Amazon; instead, it is the work of an author who used Amazon’s services.
To put it another way, the booksellers are refusing to stock a book because it was delivered by the truck company belonging to their mortal enemy.
Where is the sense in that?