Bookseller, is it a job that always makes you dream?
Completely ! But fantasies accompany this dream. Create and work in a privileged place: yes, it is! Reading a lot: it’s more complicated, because you have to do it in your free time. When you become a bookseller, you change reader profile. We read with the objective of advising and we lose sight of reading for pleasure. Maintaining a taste for reading requires effort, but remains essential, because it is the essence of the profession. Another fantasy is to see the profession as intellectual. True, but it also involves a lot of handling, and you have to be in good shape.
What priorities does the school you run set?
The main goal is to teach future booksellers the realities of the trade. We have a responsibility, because these are life projects and neo-librarians often invest all their savings in them. The bookstore requires a lot of commitment for little results sometimes. The rate of return is very low, between 1.5% and 2%. You have to give a lot of your time as in any entrepreneurship. It is a responsibility.
What are the school’s missions?
The school was created in 1972 by and for booksellers, it is financed by professional funds and has the status of an association under the 1901 law. We are at the service of the profession. We also have a regulatory role: it is not a question of encouraging all-out creations that would endanger other bookstores. We must keep in mind the equipment of the territories and the mesh.
So you limit the number of your training courses?
In retraining, a course that costs €9,000, funded by students or professional training, we train 120 booksellers a year, but we have twice as many requests. Not all of them materialize their project, but we still estimate that two thirds of the students create or take over their bookshop. We also have a hundred young students in first formation, an apprenticeship leading to beautiful paths.
The bookstore saw a 12.4% jump in sales in 2021. What about today?
The year 2022 has not been so successful. The balance of the book economy is fragile. Rising energy prices weigh heavily. Fortunately, some areas serve as a lever: youth is holding up, manga and comics are still booming. The humanities are holding up well. Literature is a little overdue, but it is an area that will hold. During the Covid, the book, very essential, showed exceptional dynamism and the French showed their attachment to their independent booksellers. Moreover, even before that, we had already felt that the vision of the profession had been dusted off.