By Bertrand Mialaret
The French market has, compared to the Anglophone situation, some very specific features:
- Prices for new books are fixed, discounts can only be given two years after the release of the book.
- This helps to maintain an important network of independent bookshops.
- Translations represent at least 15% of total sales and a higher percentage for literature compared with 3% in the US and the UK.
Three active publishers that specialise on Asia/China are a big asset:
- Editions Philippe Picquier was created in 1986 and has published 900 titles of Asian literature. Philippe Picquier has been a strong supporter of Yan Lianke, Bi Feiyu, Su Tong, Wang Anyi and also Lao She. The current Chinese catalogue includes around 100 books.
- Bleu de Chine specialises on China and was created by Genevieve Imbot-Bichet. The back list is important although not republished. Bleu de Chine is now a part of the major publisher Gallimard and issues around four titles per year.
- You Feng has two bookshops in Paris, specialises on Asia and has a wide catalogue of published books, with no clear editorial strategy and with some translations of average quality.
Two major publishers have a strong interest in China, with a large backlist, excellent editorial quality and a clear strategy:
- Anne Sastourné for Le Seuil has created a great backlist with translations from Gao Xingjian, Mo Yan and many others.
- Isabelle Rabut and Angel Pino for Actes Sud have a strong interest in Chinese and Taiwanese literature (40 Chinese titles). They have translated and published Yu Hua, Chi Li and Zhang Xinxin.
Other publishers have stopped with Chinese literature like Albin Michel, Christian Bourgois, Stock or have significantly decreased their involvement (Editions de l’Aube).
Editions de l’Olivier has been important in promoting young writers, unfortunately no new titles are coming.
Other publishers are “one shot” like Flammarion, Belfond, Calman-Levy…
Outside of our scope are the Chinese classics, but we should still mention Gallimard’s Connaissance de l’Orient which has published around thirty titles
The publisher «Les belles lettres» has recently started a bilingual publication of classics. This collection «Bibliothèque Chinoise» managed by Anne Cheng and Marc Kalinowski has published ten titles in two years.