One of the delights of living in Paris was its booksellers, from the bouquinistes in their stalls along the Seine to the librairies in more fixed stores, especially those in the university quarter. One of the oldest and most famous of Paris's bookstores, the Librairie Delamain, is located in the Hôtel du Louvre, across the street from the Comédie Française. The rents of the neighborhood, the 1er arrondissement, are on the rise, and the owner of the store's building, a Qatari holding company, was threatening to evict tenants who could not pay the higher rents. Even in France, where the book is still idolized, bookstores are losing money to their online counterparts -- would there soon be a day where the Delamain was not selling books on the Rue Saint-Honoré?
Good news is found in an article (Librairie Delamain: des nouvelles rassurantes, September 17) by Pierre Adrian in Le Figaro. Vincent Monadé, president of the Centre national du livre (CNL), got involved and recently announced that the Qatari owners had agreed to take into account "the specific activity of its tenant, as well as the length of time it has occupied the location" when it considers the matter of rent. The CNL considers the Delamain a «librairie de référence», and the store already receives subventions to help pay its rent. Leading cultural luminaries came out in answer to the call to convince the Qatari company to reconsider its decision, and it has apparently worked.