Book Distribution in France: Win the French Market, Then Go Global

With a rich literary tradition, the French market is a hotspot for French books and bestsellers written in other languages. 

It’s important to understand the nuances of distributing books in France, from aligning with local publishing groups to placing books in the myriad of bookstores across the country. 

This article delves into the strategies and insights necessary for successfully introducing your works to avid readers and charming local bookstores in France.

Key takeaways:

  1. In 2023, French reading habits highlighted a strong culture of book consumption, with a survey showing 25% of respondents as "casual readers" and 35% reading 5-19 books a year. While 86% of French readers favored printed books, there's a growing trend in digital and audiobook consumption, with a notable decrease in average prints per book, indicating a shift towards digital formats.
  2. Authors and publishers should blend the local market with digital tools to effectively reach and engage a French audience from afar.
  3. PublishDrive stands as a top choice for authors and publishers seeking to expand their reach internationally. It offers a comprehensive solution for publishing, distribution, and promotion, positioning itself as a one-stop resource for those looking to break into global markets.
  4. Discover PublishDrive's reliable network of partners and several French book distributors to get you closer to the local readership.

Reading Habits: Trends in Print, Digital, and Audio 

In 2023, the reading habits of the French continued to showcase their robust culture of book consumption. 

A survey involving 1,006 respondents over 15 years old revealed that 25% were "casual readers" who read between one and four print books in the past year. Notably, 26% read more than 20 books, and 35% read between 5 and 19, indicating a solid engagement with the publishing industry. 

The survey also noted a gender divide, with 90% of women and 82% of men reading a book in the last twelve months.

Genre-wise, statistics suggest that books related to leisure activities, hobbies, and education are highly favored in France. Among these, history books have captivated the interest of 48% of the surveyed French population, while art and photography books are preferred by 43%. In contrast, apart from comics, fiction appears to be less popular among French readers. However, comic books of various genres are currently enjoying a significant surge in popularity in France.

The average French reader consumed about five digital books annually, suggesting a rise in ebook popularity alongside traditional printed books.

Simultaneously, the French publishing industry has observed a decline in the average number of prints per book, decreasing from about 8,000 copies in 2010 to 4,815 in 2022. This reduction could be linked to the increasing preference for digital books and shifting consumer behaviors.

A January 2023 survey revealed that 86% of French readers prefer printed books, while only 29% read digital books. Centre National du Livre (CNL) conducted a study in early 2022 to examine the reading habits of French youth, including their engagement with audiobooks. The survey found that more than three-quarters of audiobook listeners enjoyed the format, and smartphones were the most commonly used device for reading digital literature, followed by laptops and tablets.

How to Reach a Global Audience 

Blend local understanding with the effective use of digital tools. As a publisher or an author aiming to reach (& conquer) the French audience, here is what to do: 

1. Understand the local market

Understanding the local market is key. Review books in French. Grasp the characteristics of the French book market: preferences of local readership, popularity of various genres, and cultural nuances specific to the French-speaking audience.

This can be effectively achieved by closely monitoring French book fairs, literary awards, and bestseller lists.

2. Localize your content

Localization goes beyond translation. It involves adapting the book to meet cultural expectations and preferences. This can include changes in cover design, book titles, and marketing materials to appeal to French readers. 

For books published in France, it's crucial to utilize professional translation services not only to ensure linguistic accuracy but also to maintain the cultural and contextual essence of the original text, thereby enhancing the connection with French-speaking readers globally. 

This comprehensive approach to localization ensures that both the content and its presentation are finely tuned to meet the expectations and preferences of the target audience, whether they are within France or part of the broader French-speaking community.

3. Effective online presence

Establish a strong online presence through a French version of your website and social media channels. 

Take time to engage with French book bloggers and influencers. This helps build a connection with the local audience and increases visibility in the French market.

Continuously monitor the performance of your books. Collect feedback and use it to adapt your strategies. This could involve tweaking marketing campaigns or changing future book releases based on reader preferences.

⚡Tip: With PublishDrive’s sales analytics, you can check the performance of your books and see what needs to be improved in your marketing tactics. 

4. Make the most of digital marketing

Utilize digital marketing strategies tailored for the French audience. This includes targeted email campaigns, search engine optimization (SEO) for French keywords, and advertisements on platforms popular in France. 

Establish and maintain relationships with French publishers, authors, and literary agents. These can offer valuable insights into the local market and lead to collaborative opportunities, such as with French book reviewers and literary influencers.

5. Participate in French literary events

Participating in French literary events, like book fairs and festivals, can increase visibility. This can be done by partnering with local authors, and publishers, or through virtual participation.

6. Understand legal requirements

Be aware of the legal aspects of publishing in France, including copyright laws, taxation, and fixed book pricing. Compliance with these regulations is critical to avoid any legal issues.

Established by the Lang Law in 1981, this fixed pricing system mandates that publishers set a retail price for their books, with retailers allowed only a limited degree of discounting, typically no more than 5%. This approach contrasts sharply with markets where heavy discounting is common, often leading to price wars that can disadvantage smaller retailers. The fixed pricing model in France aims to ensure that both large and small booksellers can thrive, fostering a diverse and vibrant literary culture. It also protects authors and publishers by maintaining fair remuneration for their work. 

7. Choose the right aggregator

Select an aggregator with a strong presence in the French market.

Aggregators, like PublishDrive, are services that distribute your ebook to multiple platforms at once. They have a wide book network to help you reach a broader audience without the need to submit to each retailer individually.

PublishDrive, Your Subscription-Based Aggregation Solution 

PublishDrive is among the top book aggregators you could choose for your book distribution, whether you’re an author or a publisher looking for international audiences. It simplifies publishing, distribution, and book promotion, offering a one-stop resource hub.

PublishDrive works based on a flat fee subscription model, allowing authors and publishers full control over their revenue. 

With a wide array of stores, collaborations, tools, and features, you access an all-encompassing book network designed to grow your business and open new markets, reaching hard-to-get audiences.

Why PublishDrive?

Besides the seamless process of publishing PublishDrive offers, you’ll benefit from:

  • Multi-format distribution
  • Book distribution to 20+ channels, 400+ stores, and thousands of digital libraries worldwide
  • Built-in marketing and promotional tools to help with your books’ visibility
  • In-store featuring: with PublishDrive’s featuring option, you can submit your books for a chance to be featured in Written Word Media's websites and other top retailers, like Apple Books and more
  • Services like royalty splitting
  • POD cover template generator
  • POD converter

Access Global Book Distribution Networks with PublishDrive

Here are the distribution channels to France that PublishDrive works with. Reach them all in a single click.

A. For ebooks

1. Amazon

Amazon's Kindle ebooks service dominates the market, providing a vast marketplace with a wide selection of French ebooks. Its global reach and dedicated reader base make it a top choice for ebook distribution.

2. Apple Books

Apple Books offers a streamlined reading experience on Apple devices, catering to various genres, including French ebooks. It's an ideal platform for iOS users seeking quality digital reading material.

3. Google Play

Google Play extends its services to ebooks, offering a substantial selection that integrates seamlessly with Android devices and Google services. This includes a diverse range of French eBooks, catering to its vast audience.

4. Kobo

Kobo is renowned for its eReaders and comprehensive ebook store, which includes an impressive array of French ebooks. It appeals to a global audience, making it a significant player in the ebook industry.

5. LazyJoy

LazyJoy, another player in the ebook market, is particularly popular in Asian regions. It offers a wide range of ebooks, including titles in French, known for its diverse selection and ease of use.

B. Subscription services

6. Perlego

Perlego specializes in academic and professional content, including a vast library of French educational and non-fiction titles. It's a go-to platform for students and professionals seeking resources in various fields, including French literature.

7. Scribd

Scribd offers diverse content through its subscription model, including ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines in multiple languages, such as French. Its all-you-can-read approach makes it a popular choice for readers who enjoy various genres and formats.

8. iReader

iReader is an emerging ebook platform gaining popularity, especially in Asian markets. It offers a user-friendly interface and a diverse selection, including French ebooks, catering to the growing demand for digital reading.

C. Print-on-demand

9. Amazon

Amazon's POD service, part of Kindle Direct Publishing, is a user-friendly solution for authors looking to avoid the costs and complexities of inventory management. This platform is particularly effective for distributing English and French books, making it accessible for a wide audience on Amazon's global platform.

10. Ingram

Ingram stands out for its extensive distribution network, including French books distribution. Catering to independent authors and publishers, IngramSpark is an ideal choice for reaching various online retailers and bookstores, including French book distributors.

D. Audiobooks

11. Apple Audio

Apple Audio, a segment of Apple Books, offers an integrated platform for purchasing and downloading audiobooks, including titles in French. Its seamless integration with Apple devices makes it a preferred choice for users within the Apple ecosystem.

12. Audible

As a leading audiobook platform, Audible, an Amazon company, boasts a vast selection of titles, including French audiobooks. Known for its exclusive content, Audible reaches a broad audience of audiobook enthusiasts.

13. Google Play Audio

Google Play Audio delivers a diverse range of audiobooks through the Google Play store. Its compatibility with Android devices and integration with Google services make it a convenient option for accessing audiobooks, including French titles.

14. Kobo Audio

Part of the Rakuten Kobo ecosystem, Kobo Audio offers an extensive catalog of audiobooks. It's an appealing platform for Kobo eReader users and those interested in French audiobooks.

15. Findaway

Findaway stands as a critical player in the audiobook industry, providing wide distribution channels that include French audiobook markets. It offers authors and publishers a gateway to a global audience, including French-speaking regions.

16. Apple AI Digital Narration

Apple's AI Digital Narration is a groundbreaking technology that uses artificial intelligence for audiobook narration. This innovative approach offers a cost-effective solution for producing audiobooks in French and other languages.

These are stores with a strong presence in the French book market. You can use PublishDrive’s distribution channels (which form the most extensive distribution network out there) to expand to a global audience. Check the full list here:


French Books Distributors

To reach even more local solutions, consider these wholesale French book distributors.

1. Side Société Internationale de Diffusion et d'Édition (SIDE)

For over 25 years, Side Société Internationale de Diffusion et d'Édition (SIDE), based in Sucy-en-Brie, France, has been a cornerstone in the world of French book distribution.

As a professional French book exporter, SIDE has specialized in consolidating and providing a comprehensive range of French books. Their expertise lies in bringing together a diverse array of French publications and exporting them worldwide.

2. Interforum Editis

Interforum Editis is the country’s second-largest publishing group, renowned for its leading market proposition and prominent imprints.

The group's success can be attributed to expertise pooled from its prestigious publishing firms, some with a history spanning over a century. This rich heritage, combined with innovative publishing strategies, has positioned Interforum Editis as a formidable force in the French publishing industry.

3. Hachette Livre International

As the exclusive worldwide distributor of all Hachette books published in France, Hachette Livre plays a pivotal role in the global dissemination of French literature.

Beyond its distribution capabilities, Hachette Livre International is also the leading educational publisher for French-speaking Africa. Additionally, it has established itself as a major player in publishing Arabic language materials.

HLI's extensive reach and diversified publishing portfolio underscore its significant influence in international publishing.

Êtes-Vous Prêt?

Understanding how to distribute books in France is key to tapping into this vibrant market. With French book distribution, your work can reach an audience that appreciates the rich tapestry of literature, arts, and sciences. French book distributors play a crucial role in bridging the gap between your books and potential readers, while aggregation services like PublishDrive allow you to maximize platform usage and hit the French market from afar.

For those who have books in French or are looking to translate and adapt their works, the opportunities are vast. With a wide array of bookstores in France, you have the ideal platform for both printed books and digital formats, ensuring your work finds its place among the diverse readership.