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The French Publishers Association

The French Publishers Association (SNE) is France’s trade association of book publishers. It represents approximately 660 member companies whose combined business endeavors account for the bulk of French publishing.

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The SNE’s missions

  •     advocating publishers’ interests,
  •     supporting creativity by defending freedom to publish and promoting the respect of intellectual property rights,
  •     promoting and defending the fixed book price,
  •     promoting literacy.

The SNE represents the French publishing profession as a member of both the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) and the International Publishers Association (IPA).
The SNE is led by a group of representatives from member companies. It extends membership to businesses that are officially registered as publishers (full members), as well as to those who count publishing as a secondary activity (associate members).

Main issues

Freedom to publish

The SNE defends freedom to publish in France and abroad and is undertaking several actions in this area:
Advocacy for a relaxing of French regulations concerning child-oriented publications or those likely to be harmful to minors
Raising awareness of judges about the risks of judicial harassment in the publishing sector
State publishing (the issue of competition of state publishers towards private publishers)
Interventions at the international level via the Freedom to Publish Committee of the International Publishers Association (IPA)

Intellectual property

In particular:

  •     Duration of Copyright
  •     Combating piracy and supporting the enforcement of intellectual property rights
  •     Photographs and privacy infringement
  •     Public lending right
  •     Compensation for private copying
  •     Reproduction rights
  •     DRM and Rights Management
  •     Protection of personal data and freedom to publish
  •     European Working Group on legal deposit of digital publications
  •     « Open access » trends
  •     Accessibility initiatives
  •     Monitoring of WIPO activities
  •     Monitoring of UNESCO activities
  •     Participation in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)
  •     Digitization initiatives by Google and projects of digital European libraries


Fixed book price system

According to the August 10, 1981 French law concerning the fixed book price system, any person publishing or importing a book in France is compelled to set a fixed retail price for the book in question. This price must be respected by all retailers, who are required to limit discounts to a maximum of 5% of the retail price fixed by the publisher.
The regulation on fixed book pricing aims at:
promoting the equality of all citizens vis-à-vis a given book, which is to be made available at the same price throughout the country;
preserving a dense and decentralized distribution system that is present in disadvantaged zones as well as more prosperous areas;
supporting pluralism in creative endeavors, and particularly in publishing, of more demanding books.
Today, this regime is widely accepted and enjoys popular support in France. Its conformity with European law was confirmed by the European Court of Justice in 1985.
The SNE actively promotes cultural diversity and in particular the fixed book price system within various international fora.

An open conception of cultural diversity

The SNE promotes an open conception of cultural diversity, that is to say one which does not aim at isolating cultures behind rigid protectionist measures. Indeed the precondition for cultural exchange is that each culture be allowed to develop in its own way with the help of public cultural policies. In France, books thus benefit from the fixed book price system, a reduced VAT rate and a certain government subsidies.

Social issues

The SNE’s Social Committee represents publishers via joint committees, in which union members are also part. The first agreement on publishing collectives was signed in 1936 between the SNE and relevant unions and has been revised several times since then. A National Joint Conciliation Committee is responsible for interpreting the agreement and examining both individual and collective disputes. In addition, a separate joint Committee is responsible for implementing regulations in the field of employment and training. Publishers and unions meet each year to negotiate salaries.

Economic issues

The SNE Economic Committee focuses mainly on studies and statistics, on the book trade as well as on accounting and taxation issues. In 2004-2005, it worked on the question of the fiscal definition of books, which is a criterion for determining the reduced VAT rate.

VAT and E-Books

The number of available books in a digital format is constantly increasing (200 000 books are already digitally available, representing 4.1% of publisher’s revenue). France extended the VAT the rules applied to physical books to digital books, considering that a book is a book, regardless of his support.

SNE and FEP are actively working together to keep this low rate of VAT, on the ground of fiscal neutrality. They hope to eventually convince all member state of the EU, whose unanimity is necessary on fiscal issues.

The Accessible French literary prize season

The access of blind and partially sighted people to books is one of the uppermost concerns for publishers. Thanks to the actions of the SNE and of the French Book Center, 230 fiction books of the 2014 literary season were made available in an accessible format in 2014. Moreoever, the Plato platform allows registered associations to ask for a free access to publishers’ digital files in order to adapt them for blind people. 3059 files were provided by publishers in 2013.

On an international scale, the SNE and all french publishers are active members of the TIGAR/ABC project (under the auspices of the WIPO) that allows crossboarder exchanges of adapted books for blind and partially sighted people.

Standards and interoperability

The standardization of the digital environment (exchange formats, clear rules of identification) is one of the main issues for publishers. In France, the SNE and the book chain are developing studies about these topics on a regular basis.

E- Lending

Libraries are privileged spaces for the promotion of books. Publishers are experimenting ways for them to lend digital books, without penalizing the growth of digital books market. In France, near 100 000 digital books are available for lending in libraries.

Open Access movement

Over the past few years, with the growth of digital economy, science publishers tried to renew their access models to scientific publications. The European Commission has published recommendations about opening the access to scientific publications at the latest 6 to 12 months after they were first published.

On a French level, the Heloise platform was created with the help of SNE to encourage communication by publishers of their Open Access policy.

Reading promotion

The encouragement of books and reading is at the heart of SNE’s statutory missions. Though French people are (according to several studies) very attached to books, the social gap in reading practices is increasing. For this reason the SNE has launched in 2012 a contest event mostly intended for young people. Young children are invited to read verbally a text in front of teachers and fellow students : the final takes place on a national scale, and many institutions are active partners of this event : the Ministry of National Education, Radio France, France Télévisions…

© 2014 SNE. Tous droits réservés