The fire of Our Lady, also sad is the event, made the happiness of the lucky few on the docks. The vendors selling souvenirs of the cathedral, have seen their sales exploded since the drama of Monday 15 April. Everyone wants a representation of the arrow blown out by the flames. Postcards to the drawings photocopied through the door-key, which represents Our Lady sells at the speed of lightning. But all do not feel concerned by this influx of customers.
Because next to those booksellers who carry the name, it remains the “purists”, as they call themselves, who have in their green boxes as books as well as some prints and original drawings. This is the case for Jérôme de Calais region, installed the new bridge, which puts in its boxes of novels of travel. The drama of Our Lady was that “a lot of sadness and many, many onlookers”. “But there was no customer,” says this man with his goatee to a point, president of the cultural association of booksellers of Paris. “The mind and heart are not there. Or there are more”, he adds.
walking towards an entry on the intangible cultural heritage Unesco world, with other “book street”, he begins to lose hope. Emmanuel Macron has announced in January its official support to the candidature of the loaves of bread while Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, is placed on the side of parisian bistros. “In the Face of them, the competition becomes really difficult,” despair Jerome Calais, in which the back is supported 100% by the French Academy.
“I want to believe that the memory boxes will not remove the battle”
“The bookshop must remain a bookseller of rue”
If the title of Unesco is primarily honorary, Jérôme Callais hope to use it as a means of pressure on the Paris city hall. “A place in the world heritage is not only recognition for our profession,” he says. It may also be useful to attract customers and to oblige the city council to enforce the specifications of the booksellers.” The seller, installed quai de Conti, talking about a point in the regulations dictated by the municipality that is, for him, not met at all. All that is, in fact, memories of Paris (postcards, coins, medals, etc) is allowed in only one green box. “On some platforms, the concept of shonen was completely exceeded. Many do sell almost no books, and focus on tourist objects or drawings photocopied from the Eiffel Tower or Notre-Dame. They forget that the bookshop must remain fundamentally a bookseller on the street”, laments he.
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“When you see the tourists want a photo on a bridge lock while there is a historic cathedral next to it, want to sell books on the quays is utopian”
Raphael sees no future in selling books on the quays of paris. On a table installed in front of one of her boxes, the used book store up a large quantity of door key to the effigy of the Eiffel tower and mirror pocket. His old books are hidden by sketches of the great parisian monuments. While it only sold books when he started twenty years ago, the used book store, 47-year-old now recognizes that the books and the prints do not correspond, in fact, only 20% of its sales. “We have a problem of renewal of the customer,” he said. Many of our customers are retirees, and it happens to me to sell a few beautiful books to young students who want to build their ideal library. But my clientele is mostly made up of tourists who buy as souvenirs.”, he explains, before returning to a couple who wants to buy him a drawing of Our Lady. “How do you want to sell an avatar to a mass of tourists in jogging with headphones iPhone screwed to the ear?, he laments. They first want to take a picture of themselves on the Pont des Arts with their padlock. Their sell books, it becomes utopian”. Jérôme Callais does not have to resolve to such a fate. The sign that it place every morning on his green box indicates: “Reading is a serious blow to the stupidity!”
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On the quai de Conti, Jean-Pierre reveals his new find: an old edition of Kaputt written by Curzio Malaparte. “This is one of the greatest novels of the Twentieth century!”, says this former professor of philosophy. Installed on a bench in front of his display, the man in his seventies tells us with passion why the Italian writer was “a visionary”. One would remain for hours listening to her, lulled by her words and the stream of passers-by no longer stop. Or more enough.
Just as her colleague from the quai Saint-Michel, Jean-Pierre has been a change in the choice of consumption and even in the type of clientele. “Today we are facing a mass tourism, mass consumption, and the power of the immediacy of the image,” he explains. People no longer want as posters or prints at the expense of the book.” But unlike Raphael, “the philosopher of the docks,” believes that his work is increasingly necessary today. “We are in a society of non-contact, where everyone is behind a screen everywhere, all the time…people will therefore increasingly need to contact. And this is the essence of our business to exchange ideas with all the world.” This is why it takes so long to the small green box.