Le Monde says that French bookstores had a good year financially, despite a drop around the 13 November terrorist attacks. Le Monde says bookstores in France are recovering from the digital thing. I can believe it, because every time I go to a Paris bookstore it is full of people caressing books: touching them, lifting them up, turning them over, reading the back cover, shuffling the pages, all the amorous things one does with books. Like today, when I went to Compagnie on the rue des Ecoles across the street from the Sorbonne, a few steps from the statue of Montaigne (and, not coincidentally, my gym). A lovely, light spacious place with as many tables of books as shelves, where you can dream your way from book to book, regretting all the ones you are not going to be able to read. I want to suck them all up into me...I bought the Correspondence of Paul Celan and René Char, just published, to take back to Palo Alto. Tomorrow I have to go through two or three stacks of books here and decide which ones will go in the suitcase. My idea was that when I had several books by one writer I could move one or two to the other side of the world, where I often wish I had this or that book to hand.
Oh, and Bill Gates reads books, real, paper books, not electronic books. He likes real books, he even blogs about them, he has a book blog, says the New York Times this week. I don't believe digital books are going to be a big thing, that's my hunch. My tip. But I wish the English-speaking world did what the French do, viz. controlled the price of books. It feels civilized to stroll into a bookstore full of people browsing.