Thierry Crouzet

Automatic translation from french

At the end of the 1990s, in the midst of the dot-com bubble, I was so convinced that the paper book was dead that I participated in the launch of an electronic publishing house, Olympio, which wanted to be the YouTube of the book (YouTube did not exist yet). A few million thrown out the window later, the project flipped, but I remained convinced that the future was at all digital, at least until I write I disconnected in 2011 and I take a step back.

What about today ? The numbers keep confirming a bottom move : paper books are getting better as ebook sales fall (results for the US market, which was the vanguard of the digital transition in publishing). Why this evolution? Perhaps because too much digital kills the digital and we need physical experiences, paper reading being one. Perhaps especially because the bookstores are back in the hair of the beast.

In a dematerialized, virtualized world, dominated by the distracted search for adulterated recognition, they become places of encounter, exchange and discovery. While online bookstores are only promoting bestsellers, by an amplifier effect of their algorithms, while the media tend to follow suit, because they can not ignore what works, while literary prizes devote the market and not literature, booksellers continue to read, to be curious, to offer their favorites, and the more they engage, the better they differentiate themselves from the competition, and the better they retain a clientele - even tired of hype and standardized products. In England, independent publishers continue to see their turnover increase because booksellers increasingly frisky push their books (I did not find the source).

In a world dominated by the social networks that maintain between us fake links, the bookstores allow us to meet, to touch us, to smile for real. It's stupid, but we need human warmth and I have always found solace with booksellers, even if as a writer the quantity of books on sale terrifies me (I often wonder why to add a Moreover).

Libraries are the hubs of a social network of proximity. They mesh the territory, they bypass the business network that has imposed online. They give more chances to the authors to be heard than digital storefronts. I have one more proof with my latest novel . The returns come from the field, some booksellers, that most often I do not know. They do not come from the top of the pyramid, they do not come from Google or Facebook where from now on it is impossible to be heard without investing fortunes.

For me, it's the dream of the freelance writer, this opportunity to do everything myself, from writing to broadcasting. It's over because the network does not help me, on the contrary, it drowns me, it grinds me, because I do not slap enough money, I'm not sulphurous enough, do not publish it enough compromising photos and especially does not spend enough time flattering those who might be my buyers. It imposes overbidding, excess, baroque, where I like minimalism. He is against art and for an irresponsible business.

That some authors succeed online should not delude us. Platforms need to put forward some success stories to hide the truth: for the majority, the net is bursting prematurely, pushing us to spend a crazy energy to snatch some like. The platforms go so far as to blow up articles like this one, because they know that if they provoke the buzz, it will prove their honesty.

So what are we left to do, to our readers, to our other authors? We get closer to places where there is light in cities or even villages. Return to bookstores, meet booksellers, other clients, other authors. We need to live in the world we love and love ourselves, and stop wanting to shine in the one who steals our personal data to monetize them.

No, I will not unplug once again, I will not print this article and circulate it under the mantle. I will continue to use digital tools, continue to blog, discuss networks, but without illusion, aware that even these contents can not spread without a strong link with the field, where I have no contact, where booksellers interconnect reading lovers, where Facebook limits my horizon and offers me to pay to enlarge.

Buying in bookstores is a political and artistic act, a reaction to the increasing centralization of the Net, the dictatorship of GAFAM. It is to oppose a quantitative logic in the name of a human and qualitative approach. In this case, the digital book is not in question, it is the model of the Net of today that must be fought, a model which after having made us believe in more freedom we withdraw every day .