3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us

June 15, 2004 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on June 15, 2004.

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Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to: kessler@well.sf.ca.us

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe -- as part of FYI France (sm)(tm), an online service to which anyone can subscribe for 12 months by postal mailing a check for US $45, payable to Jack Kessler, to PO Box 460668, San Francisco, California, USA 94146 (site licenses also are available): please write your email address on the front of your check. Please email suggestions for improvements to me at kessler@well.sf.ca.us


Publishing's Crisis, by Hervé Le Crosnier

A view of publishing, from France...



[A large group of famous French publishing houses, purchased and conglomerated by the Vivendi Corporation during the 1980s, and then purchased from Vivendi by missile-and-airplane manufacturing giant Groupe Lagardère, just has been divested by the latter: sold now to Wendel Investments, a giant holding company with interests in just about everything except publishing... JK]

[mercredi 9 juin 2004, Paris (AFP): "The President of Editions du Seuil, Claude Cherki, announced his resignation today at the conclusion of a financial operation which conflicted, according to one of the leaders of the firm, Jean-Claude Guillebaud, with the 'fundamental values' of this traditional left-wing Catholic company... M. Cherki, who has led Le Seuil since 1989, is accused of having speculated in company stock, purchased at low prices from former employees... The departure of its president is a shock to this prestigious house of the Rue Jacob, which began in 1935... today it maintains 400 employees and a catalog of over 16,500 titles... 'We did not place this house in the hands of M. Cherki so that he might denigrate the heritage of Paul Flamand and Jean Bardet', said Guillebaud, literary director of Seuil..." (tr.JK) http://fr.news.yahoo.com/040609/202/3urke.html]

[Minister of Culture & Communication Jean-Jacques Aillagon. JK]

[Former editor-in-chief of Livres Hebdo. JK]



Editor's Note (by JK):

"Market economics" has taken over in so many areas of life, nowadays. We use theories, and approaches, and mindsets, all originally designed for commercial business applications, in areas as far afield from "business" as the education of our young, the analysis of our politics, the provision of our healthcare, and the finance decisions at least of our research and of our abstract thinking activities.

"Decision theories", and ideas about "rational choice", which once had so much about them that was mystical -- that famous / infamous "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline -- now come dressed in the precision of a corporate sales meeting marketing analysis, PowerPoint charts and all.

And they seem to be omnipresent... We find the economist's "equilibrium analysis" in our entertainment offerings, in decisions regarding our nations' international relations, and in the choices we are offered and which we make about how to care for our elderly and sick and wounded and disturbed.

Is all this really amenable to "The Market"? Are the decisions taken there really analogous to, much less directly determinative of, the analysis of our decisions regarding healthcare, and education policy, and the environment, and political choice?

Do "supply and demand", and "market competition" -- even as-modified somewhat by recent "market imperfection" research, per Joe Stiglitz -- really address the intangibles, of some of these situations? If Grandpa needs an expensive operation, do we deny him this simply because of his age -- because it is "not worth it", in our cost-benefit analysis of his condition and situation -- and if he is unhappy do we simply feed him Prozac, because full psychotherapy and lifestyle changes might be "too expensive", for "someone in his situation"?

It seems that there may be a divide, still, between the economic and the non-economic, even in the most rational of "rational choice", one which "market economics" does not span...

Hervé Le Crosnier, here, addresses only the crisis in publishing. He has done this before, eloquently and forcefully, in his frequent opinion pieces in the excellent biblio-fr French librarians' econference which he founded and still edits: for biblio-fr generally, see,


and for Le Crosnier on this particular topic see inter alia, there,

Le Crosnier, and France generally, once again put well a problem facing publishing -- publishing globally, perhaps, and at least in the US and UK and several other places -- that there must be other models available, besides the one of "market economics" which currently is leaving so much of what traditional publishing once provided so far behind.

Or are there? Or is all this in fact one product of a major paradigm shift, per Thomas Kuhn, which will see vast swathes of publishing's old domain -- academic publishing, professional literature, science journals, small presses, and so much else which cannot achieve a 10,000 copies printrun -- simply cut out entirely, and handed over to the new digital media? Remains to be seen... Or perhaps "something is happening here", already, and we just "don't know what it is"... In France they're finding out...





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Last update: July 21, 2004