valerie merciHere’s a list of the ten bestselling books in France for 2014.

  1. Merci pour ce moment (Thank You for This Moment) by Valérie Trierweiler. This memoir by Président Holland’s former companion sold 603,300 copies.
  2. Cinquante nuances de Grey (50 Shades of Grey) by E.L. James (575,600 copies sold)
  3. Central Park by Guillaume Musso (556,600 copies sold)
  4. La femme parfaite est une connasse ! (The Ideal Woman is a Bitch) by Anne-Sophie Girard and Marie Aldine
  5. Demain (Tomorrow) by Guillaume Musso
  6. Cinquante nuances plus sombres (50 Shades Darker) by EL James
  7. Nos étoiles contraires (The Fault in our Stars) by John Green
  8. Muchachas 1 by Katherine Pancol
  9. Cinquante nuances plus claires (50 Shades Freed) by EL James
  10. La vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert (The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair), paperback version, by Joël Dicker.

I haven’t been able to find out how many copies of numbers 4 to 10 were sold (I’d need to subscribe to Livreshebdo for a year for a hefty sum to do that) but number 12 bestseller of 2014, Le suicide français (French Suicide) by Eric Zemmour sold 338,200 copies. So anything between roughly 340,000 and 550,000 apiece for those ten books.

I can use a couple of these books to illustrate how different covers for French and English editions can be in some cases. Out of our top 10, Green, James, Pancol and Musso have the same cover design, and the Girard/Aldine title hasn’t made it into English yet. But for Trierweiler and Dicker, the covers are quite distinct. The French Trierweiler is above. So here’s the English language edition cover.

valerie thank you

Definitely a lot more interesting-looking.

And here is the French Harry Quebert:

harryq french

Not the worst, but rather a lot of white. And here’s the English:

harryq eng

Heaps more modern. French book covers, at least for adult fiction, do tend to send you to sleep. Time to liven up I think.

Back to our bestsellers. Out of the top 50 bestsellers, 39 were fiction including a good number of ‘livres d’évasion’ (escapist) and even, heavens help us, some humour titles! This apparently corresponds with the modern French desire to ‘se changer les idées’, change their attitudes, according to the list’s compiler GfK. Readers vote for, and I quote, “les feel good books” – some nice franglais for you there!

Total sales of the Top 50 books came to 13.3 million books and 174 million euros (thus giving an average sales price of €13.08), accounting respectively for 4,5 % and 5,2 % of the total book market for the year.

Generally, book sales in France via bookshops (in store and online) in 2014 fell by 1.4% overall from 2013, and by 3.7% for the largest independent bookshops, according to Sebastien Rouault, head of the book department at GfK, a market research firm in Paris. However, a few bookshops saw increased sales, such as Le Comptoir des Mots bookshop in Paris, whose sales were up by 5%. The owner thinks that defectors from Amazon were one reason for the increase.

And to finish on a writerly note, today sees literary magazine, Magazine Littéraire (what else!) take a new more colourful and livelier format. . That sounds rather like what the French book scene is doing.