Paris is the only city in the world where a river flows framed by two rows of books,” wrote Blaise Cendrars in his book Roam (1948). Right bank, from the pont Marie to the quai du Louvre, and on the left bank, the quai de la Tournelle to the quai Voltaire, the green boxes, which are held by 226 booksellers, libraries are open to the sky of the capital. The most emblematic Figures of the parisian landscape, these small, independent traders come to see their profession listed in the national inventory. The ministry of Culture has included Wednesday’s “the traditions and know-how of the secondhand booksellers of the quays of Paris” the intangible cultural Heritage.
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“Their skills are historical, cultural and technical at the same time, and in addition to the personal qualities of intellectual curiosity and taste for sharing,” says the ministry. From may 2018, the Council of Paris supported the request. The booksellers “significantly contribute to the soul of literature in the City of light. Heirs of the peddlers of the Sixteenth century, they perpetuate a tradition of intellectual and a bibliophile, which is an essential component of the identity parisienne”, welcomed Florence Berthout, maire LR of the 5th arrondissement, in a press release.
Peddlers cultural, these merchants of books offer ancient works and of occasion, rare editions of French literature to comics, passing through old editions of newspapers. Summer or winter, sun or rain, nothing stops the second-hand booksellers.
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This registration is one more step before the application to Unesco with the next session, review of records will take place in November and December. Jérôme Callais, president of the Association culturelle des bouquinistes de Paris, says he is “very proud” of this new. “It is a recognition to our profession, that we should recall, is own to Paris,” he says. Thanks to this visibility new, people will want to rediscover our job and find works to which they did not expect necessarily. This is the second blow for us and a way, perhaps, to prevent our sinking.” Unesco is the final stage of this recognition. “It is a prestigious institution that will allow all of you to see us as anything other than “clodos péripatéticiens”. It will take us more seriously now,” adds the second-hand booksellers.
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Despite competition from the Internet and in bookshops, Jérôme Callais does not lose hope. “We suggest that print books at the booksellers new, and not valuable enough for booksellers, bibliophiles fortunate,” he says. The booksellers are an alternative, an in-between that offers rare editions, but at affordable prices. It is close to the customer, and we share our passion with everyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from. It is through this specificity that we will continue to exist.”
For the job he does for the past 28 years, Jérôme Callais resumes Anatole France: “these brave merchants of mind, who live continuously outside, the gown to the wind, are so well-worked by the air, the rains, the frosts, the snows, the fogs, and the great sun, that they end up looking like the old statues of cathedrals.”
The cultural association of booksellers of Paris will be present at the Salon International Rare Book & Autograph and will propose an exhibition of a hundred prints. Appointment from 11 to 13 April at the Grand Palais, avenue Winston-Churchill, Paris Viii.
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