Book-lovers to celebrate Independent Bookshop Day on Saturday

Bookshops such as this one in Paris are protected by the Lang Law of 1981.

Some 500 independent booksellers across France, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg are preparing for the 19th annual Independent Bookshop Day this Saturday, April 22.

The event has become an important part of the calendar for writers, publishers, journalists and independent booksellers. 

And this year the organisers have produced a book, titled Le Corps du Livre (The Body of the Book), to mark the occasion. Some 23,000 copies will be distributed to readers on the day.

The book, which features interviews with a number of publishers, offers a behind-the-scenes look at the various skills that go into making a book - including typography, graphic design and illustration - and asks the question ‘what can a cover tell us about a book?’. 

France has roughly 3,000 independent bookstores – more than the entire United States, while the number in the UK fell below 1,000 back in 2014. 

The high number in France is largely due to a piece of legislation called the Lang Law, passed in 1981 when chain bookstores were beginning to appear. The law protects small bookshops by prohibiting the discounting of prices set by French publishers by more than 5%, meaning the large chains and online stores such as Amazon and Fnac have not been able to undercut small independent businesses.

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