Vivendi has filed its proposed takeover bid for the Lagardère group, merging France's two largest book publishing groups--Hachette Livre and Editis--with the French financial regulator Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF). The Bookseller reported that Vivendi "has increased its bid from €24.10 [about $27.40] to €25.50 [about $28.95] a share for the 55.12% of the capital it doesn't already own" and said the offer would open on April 14 and close on May 20.
Opposition to the merger has increased in the past few weeks. At a Senate commission of inquiry on media mergers in France, Guillaume Husson, director of the French Booksellers Assocation (Syndicat de la Librairie Française), said Vivendi was a "disproportionate media power" in promoting its own publications, the Bookseller noted. "Publishers already have clout over booksellers and their distributors' set book prices and booksellers' margins, he said, according to Public Sénat, the Senate's news service. This is particularly the case with Hachette Livre. 'What would happen if the market leader doubled its sales?' he asked."
Laurent Lafon, president of the Culture Committee, said it had not planned to look into book publishing, but developments had prompted it to do so.
"The prospect [of the takeover] is a real threat for the whole sector," said Antoine Gallimard, head of Madrigall, the Gallimard holding company and president of the Bureau International de l'Édition Française, which promotes French publishing abroad. The deal would "undermine editorial vitality and diversity in France," he observed, adding that small publishing houses were often behind editorial discoveries.
Toronto bookseller, community builder and event coordinator Anjula Gogia is the recipient of this year's Freedom to Read Award, presented annually by the Writers' Union of Canada in recognition of work that is "passionately supportive of access to books and the freedom to read."
Gogia was the long-time co-manager of the Toronto Women's Bookstore, which "was in its time the largest non-profit feminist bookstore in Canada. Thanks in no small part to Anjula Gogia's community outreach skills, TWB was a hub for authors, especially BIPOC, racialized and those focused on social justice writing. Twice damaged in firebomb attacks on a nearby abortion clinic, TWB introduced generations of Canadians to diverse and boundary-pushing literature," TWUC noted.
She later became events coordinator at Another Story Bookshop, where she was instrumental in continuing ASB's schedule of author events and bookselling during the initial and subsequent lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gogia was nominated for the Freedom to Read Award by a Canadian author, who wrote: "Anjula has spent decades building bridges between well known and unknown writers to enlarge CanLit, forging connections between academics and the general public, between various communities, and across difference. Anju's knowledge, skill and approach to publishing and bookselling transcends any particular store, and transforms it. She is an astute reader, brilliant sales strategist, and unique book champion."
Canada's Freedom to Read Week, which is being held February 20-26, is a national annual celebration that encourages Canadians to think deeply about and value access to print materials, and their rights to read, write and publish freely.
New Dutch research is examining the D&I space within the book trade. The European & International Booksellers Federation's Newsflash reported that in recent years the theme of diversity and inclusion has gained importance in social debate, "leading the Dutch cultural sector to embrace the Diversity and Inclusion Code. After all, the book market has traditionally been a place of polyphony and the written word is a fundamental pillar of freedom of speech. But the D&I Code is also about diversity in organizations, an inclusive audience approach and fair access to opportunities. New research takes a closer look at these topics and examines the views on the D&I and its implementation in the book trade."
Bookseller moments: "Early morning in the shop," posted on Instagram by Clarke's Bookshop in Cape Town, South Africa. And: "Early morning light reflecting off our window." --Robert Gray