French Books Don’t Sell? Au Contraire!

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French Morning recently ran a blurb referring to a BBC article “Why don’t French Books Sell Abroad,” whose title says it all… or nearly.

Some were piqued by the idea, including Laurence Marie of the French Embassy. “There is no such thing as bad publicity,” she writes in a piece on the Embassy’s website that responds to the BBC article, “French fiction is being talked about. What better proof of its vitality?”

Taking up the challenge nevertheless, Marie goes on to show that it is not simply French novels, but all foreign fiction translated to English that is extremely unlikely to see the US market with those works making up just “1% of novels published in the US,” adding that “French is the most translated language in the US.”

More to the point, Marie writes that French fiction isn’t just selling in the US, it’s selling “better than ever.”

“Joël Dicker’s The Ruth about the Harry Quebert Affair, originally written in French, was bought for half a million dollars,” she writes, noting that this was Penguin Classics USA’s “biggest purchase ever.” And, she writes, “The number of books translated from French to English has increased by about 30% in the last few years.”

For the full article, click here to visit the Embassy website.

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