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Longlisting of self-published title for major prize angers French booksellers

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French booksellers have lashed out at of one of the country’s most prestigious literary prizes for longlisting a self-published novel that’s only available on Amazon, reports The Guardian.

French-Israeli author Marco Koskas’ Bande de Français was self-published on Amazon’s CreateSpace platform, and is among the 17 titles longlisted for this year’s Prix Renaudot.

The French bookseller’s association (the syndicat de la librairie Française), which represents nearly 600 French bookstores, said in a statement that the longlisting of the title has put booksellers in an unfair position since ordering the book is ‘technically and commercially almost impossible’.

‘Morally, especially, they refuse to “jump into the mouth of the wolf” because Amazon is not a competitor like the others. It does not just want to become a major player in the book market, it wants to become the market by itself by eliminating its competitors, organising unfair competition, escaping the tax, bypassing the single price of the book, and replacing publishers, distributors and booksellers,’ wrote the association.

It also warned that including Bande de Français on the longlist ‘does a disservice to the author himself, as well as to booksellers, and is a worrying sign for the future of book creation and distribution’.

However, the author told The Guardian that he was ‘amused and proud’ to find himself selected, adding that the call for him to be excluded was a ‘great lack of fair play, not to say blackmail’.

Koskas, who has published traditionally in the past, said that he was forced to self-publish after his book was passed on by traditional publishers.

‘As I didn’t want to bow down to this decision, in the end I decided to self-publish,’ said Koskas.

He added that bookshops should not be angry with him or with the Prix Renaudot judges, but with the publishers who ‘made a mistake’ about his book.

Prix Renaudot judge and author Patrick Besson defended the choice of Bande de Français, calling the novel ‘one of the most original, the most interesting’ of the season.

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