January 15, 2013

The French are coming! With books!


For years, Shakespeare and Company has provided English-speaking expats and Parisians a bookstore where they can find English-language books to sate their thirst for Shakespeare (naturally), Dickens, Fitzgerald, et al. But as far as I know, New York doesn’t have such a haven for people looking for a dedicated French-language bookstore, something that the French embassy is considering correcting.

Shelf Awareness reported yesterday that the cultural services division of the French embassy is looking into the possibility of opening a French bookstore in Manhattan.

The embassy is running a survey online which asks questions about people’s reading habits, how easily they’re able to find French books (either translated or in the original French), and whether they prefer physical books to electronic ones.

One question, which asks consumers what they’d hope to find at the store, hints at amenities that might be offered; these include “a special ‘electronic area’ for reading or consulting e-books,” “a quiet room for reading and reflection,” and “events with literary figures from the French-speaking world,” among others.

The embassy’s website explains that “the goal of this new French bookstore would be to offer a vast range of French books and works in English translation, both in paper and digital format, at low prices and available for purchase at the store and online.”

The plan is for it to open an Upper East Side location sometime this fall.



Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.