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French Ambassador's message
From Gallus Anonymus, through Potocki, Mickiewicz, Gombrowicz, and Kantor, the centennial of whose birthday will be celebrated this year, books have always played an important role in the relations between France and Poland.
Even today, owing to translation – which according to Umberto Eco is the ‘the language of Europe’ – the written word is circulating between our countries: fiction, books for children and teenagers, comic books, scientific literature, guides, albums, and more. Both Poles and the French have plenty to satisfy their enthusiasm for good books and for exchanging quality thought, even more important now, in the light of the recent attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.
Every year, almost 600 French titles translated into Polish, including some 400 new publications, are published on the book market. 10 per cent of these publications are financed from French support programmes, such as the Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński Programme of the French Embassy. In the 25 years since the beginning of their operation, these programmes have contributed to the publication of some 650 titles.
Books are carriers of thought and knowledge, but they are also the subject of an actual cultural industry, a source of income and jobs. Since the 1980s, France has had specific regulations governing this sector, including the act on fixed book price. This policy, later extended to include e-books as well, creates favourable conditions for diverse offers as well as for high quality services provided by the indispensible middlemen – booksellers.
The French programme for the Warsaw Book Fair, prepared by the French Institute in Poland in cooperation with the International Bureau of French Publishing (BIEF) as well as with Polish representatives of the publishing industry and with the support of strategic partners – Orange and Carrefour – will present to the Polish audience various aspects of the current innovative French book sector.
The stand of the International Bureau of French Publishing will be offering almost a thousand new publications, and some 20 authors will travel from France to meet with the Polish readers. Apart from the Fair, books will also be a prominent feature at the French film festival at the Warsaw cinema “Muranów” and at a cycle of meetings at “Teatr Polski”, where eminent French and Polish actors will be reading fragments of selected works.
Members of the book industry will have the opportunity to meet with many publishers and participate in a debate on the various faces of the culture industry in the digital age.
After Kraków’s and Wrocław’s recent participation in the Paris Book Fair and France’s participation in the Frankfurt Book Fair two years before, this year’s invitation for France to hold a special place at this year’s WBF is both an honour and a good opportunity. May it be the beginning of a new stage in the relations between our two countries in the field of books and the written word.
Ambassador of France