“There is a real place for independent bookstores”

The independent bookstore festival, which takes place this Saturday, April 15, is an opportunity to highlight these specialists who have to deal with supermarkets and e-commerce giants. For Didier Bonnet, bookseller in Carpentras, advice always makes the difference.

Alex Guey
Today at 18:56 | updated today at 19:22

It is to about thirty customers that Didier Bonnet, manager of the bookstore of the Clock of Carpentras, will offer this Saturday April 15 a book composed of reflections of authors, on the occasion of the 25e Independent bookstore festival.

An appointment for which he is present every year with his team: “It’s an opportunity to explain our job”. But also to affirm their presence and their resistance to major retailers and e-commerce giants. “This festival was initiated in Spain in 1926 by intellectuals who wanted to talk about books. It even persisted under Franco. This day also allows us to remember that we have a much greater wealth of funds than in these major brands such as Fnac, Cultura, Amazon…”.

A book lover, Didier Bonnet is also aware of his preponderant role in the city: “The bookstore is a somewhat special business. You go there to buy a book, but also to stroll and you can be surprised by other books, other authors. In bookstores like ours, advice is essential. We are also here to help people discover what we read. We defend the books. And besides, if we weren’t there, there are a lot of authors and publishers who wouldn’t exist anymore, because they don’t sell a lot”.

“It is a place for knowledge, for culture where one can be advised”

With nearly 600 novels coming out each literary season (September and January), the difficulty in finding your way around is real.

And the mission of small booksellers is clear: “One of the reasons why people go to websites or supermarkets is because they can’t find a bookstore near their home. It’s not a question of price because the price of a book is the same everywhere. We are lucky that a law protects us. A bookstore is a place for knowledge, for culture where one can be advised. It is our strength. And then it’s still a downtown business. For our part, we work in collaboration with the library. The City of Carpentras also relies heavily on us for cultural events, but also with the literary meetings that we organize”.

A sum of actions that allows Didier Bonnet and his team to hold their own against the big names without difficulty: “It’s quite easy to resist the big names, because we are in a lucky country. And the state protects bookstores a lot. With the Culture Pass, for example, young people are starting to read again. And then not everyone is moving towards these giants. In people’s minds, we are still very important. And for me there is a real place for independent bookstores. In any case for mine, it is the case”.

Charly Guibaud, an assiduous reader from Avignon: “There is a quality of service and a closeness that cannot be found elsewhere”

“When I was young, my parents always read books to me and since I learned to read, I read a lot,” says Charly Guibaud, a 27-year-old doctoral student. Classic and contemporary novels, a few comic strips in recent years, but also essays in the human sciences, ecology or feminists, our Avignonnaise reads everything!
As a child, she frequented the library in her village and made a short trip to L’Eau vive, when she came to the City of the Popes. But it is above all as an adult that she takes advantage of the youth bookstore in the city center: “In my bachelor’s degree, I worked in the youth library section. So I read a lot of albums and I continue for fun, even if I have since reoriented myself towards theater studies! I also give it to the children of my family”.

She goes to all the independent bookstores in the city center, but especially to the Comédie Humaine, at least once a month, or even twice. “Most of the time, I order the books that interest me online on the “Place des libraires” site and I pick them up in bookstores. It’s a habit I picked up during lockdown. For novels, I only buy those that I have already borrowed from the library, read and loved! But when I go to pick up my order, I sometimes leave with an extra five or six books, even though I didn’t go there for that. I can also stroll to the bookstore for fun and I come out with a pile of books. It’s so tempting! »

Why does she prefer independent bookstores? “For the geographical proximity, but also for the quality of service that I wouldn’t find in the big brands like Fnac or Cultura where the salespeople change and where you often feel alone on the shelves. In small bookstores, you feel good. There is a real proximity with the bookseller, who can provide us with information and who knows our tastes to advise us. And then when I have a habit, I keep it! »

Marie-Felicia ALIBERT

Pauline Barra. Photo The DL/DG

To buy books, do you prefer bookstores, specialized supermarkets or the Internet?

Pauline Barra, 35, childcare assistant, Bédarrides

“I read a lot, several books a month. I buy all my books. I prefer, for the most part, the internet, because I don’t have time to go to bookstores, yet I really like to stroll through these shops, choose my books and possibly have some nice surprises. »

Christophe Jacquot. Photo The DL/PT

Christophe Jacquot, 50, civil servant, Bollène

“Since my early childhood I have been an assiduous reader, at the time, my parents took me to the various bookstores in the region, it was our “cultural outing”. Today adult, I always like to go to choose my books in bookshop, moreover, we always have judicious advices of the salesman. I never order online by choice. »

Robert Mazzochi. Photo GA-D.

Robert Mazzocchi, 78, retired, Vedène

“Not from Amazon. My wife and I watch a lot of cultural shows. As soon as we intend to present an interesting book, I order it from Cultura, rather than from Fnac. However, I regret that it is now necessary to retrieve the books with a ticket and a number, without the determining human contact that existed a few months ago”.

Zanatana Bournat. Photo The DL/BB

Zanatana Bournat, 48, craftsman, Clermont-Ferrand, passing through Velleron

“I like books and bookstores. I travel often, and when I arrive in an unfamiliar city, I often go to the nearest independent bookstore: I like to discuss the place with the bookseller who is there, and leave with a book on the city or the region that he will have advised me! I never buy books on the internet! »

Valerie Heli. Photo The DL/PT

Valérie Héli, unemployed, 54 years old, Orange

“I only go to bookstores. It allows a local business to work. When the bookseller knows you, he can advise you on your tastes. You can’t find that anywhere else. It’s a real added value. They are real traders who always find an answer to your questions and very often they have read the books they recommend. »

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