Bookshops in Europe take stand against Internet rivalry

Bookshops in Europe take stand against Internet rivalry

FRANKFURT - European bookshops are taking a stand against competition from the Internet, boosted by a renaissance in independent stores and their enhanced know-how despite still facing a difficult climate, industry players say.

"The findings are the same everywhere: it's difficult," Mathieu de Montchalin, president of the national trade union of French bookshops, said.

"France is one of the only countries in Europe, with Germany, which is succeeding in stemming the fall in the book market," he added after participating in an event on Europe's book sector at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

He said independent book stores were doing better than chain stores. "The independent shops are succeeding in keeping their customers and their sales are stable even if they are not going up," he added.

The book market continues to drop off but Internet sales are increasing at a slower pace than in the past, allowing traditional book shops to limit the damage. France has 20,000 points of sale for books - and 2,500 bookshops - and the figure is not waning, according to the bookshops' union.

Meanwhile in Germany, book store sales alone rose by 0.9 percent in January to September compared to a year earlier.

That was slightly more than the 0.8-percent increase for all book distribution methods, according to the German Publishers and Booksellers Association.

Its president Gottfried Honnefelder said although the figures were small, they showed a "trend", with book stores projecting a "new self-confidence" in Germany. And he vigorously warned that a fixed price agreement on new books, used by Germany and 10 other European countries, must continue, not least to save the bookshops.

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