The bookstore from the inside: My Fair Book
My Fair Book is an initiative to save as many books as possible in France.
The debate about the number of new titles published by publishers per year is always on the table: are there too many for the market, what happens to the backlist, and how long does the life of a book that has just come out last? In France, the My Fair Book initiative is trying to find a solution. We talked to Patricia and Julie, its founders.
What is it and how did the idea of creating My Fair Book come about?
My Fair Book is a new website for selling books online, but it has three particularities: the logic of the circular economy, since it is about new books but not new releases: we are going to collect books from publishers’ stocks to prolong their visibility and avoid shelves. What moves us is to discover nuggets, and authors and share them, so all our books are read and carefully chosen by our reading committee because we are very attached to bibliodiversity. In addition, we offer a kind of online bookseller’s table with small selections that rotate, and to guide the reader in his choice, we group the books by themes.
The main idea of My Fair Book is to praise the slowness, the second life of books, but of new books, in a circular economy logic. This adventure was born from an observation: there is such an overproduction that books are less and less visible in bookstores, and so every year in France, about ¼ of the book production is crushed, that is to say, destroyed (certainly recycled in cardboard boxes), but we are talking about 140 million unread works. So Patricia and I thought that among these books there must be some marvel that had escaped us. And since books are not perishable, they have no expiration date, our role is to unearth nuggets among these books and share them with our readers.
Which genres do you keep the most?
At the moment we are present in two segments: literature and beautiful books. Among the books that are doing well is one about the life of a psychiatrist and a novel about a Jewish boy during the war in Paris.
What are the obstacles you usually encounter?
Shipping and logistics require a lot of attention and supervision and all the obstacles of a young company: there are only two of us at the moment, so the days are hectic.
Do readers find a lower price on the website or does the price remain the same as before being ‘rescued’?
The books are sold at the same price as elsewhere (new price) because in France this is regulated by the Lang law of the single price. This allows authors to receive royalties.
Are there too many new titles and, therefore, books with little chance of selling?
Absolutely. There are 40,000 new titles a year in France and 20% of the market is concentrated on 1,000 titles. As is the case with cinema, books don’t stay in bookstores for long, and it is very difficult for a young author to make a name for himself.
What is MyFairBook’s main objective in the short term?
The goal is to save as many books as possible, either by selling them or by donating them to associations. We approach book clubs to propose other books in the name of bibliodiversity, and we contact companies sensitive to a circular economy and CSR issues.