Can books be sustainable?

In 2019, in France alone, 68,171 different books were published*, which means 186 per day including Sundays, and mostly new books. This figure tends to increase year on year, despite slightly declining sales volumes.

The actual life span of non-fiction works, which are the fruit of a long labour process, is sometimes a few weeks. It is rare that a work has the chance to be republished, as the costs are usually considered prohibitive. Every new release drives out another.  

The problems of overproduction in the fashion and food sectors are well known today, but what is less well known is that the book industry is not fundamentally different.

In this context, why create again, and how can we try to fight against the planned obsolescence of books? At Éditions La Butineuse, we favour a different approach and wish to work with our authors in both short term and long term.

For us, Slow Publishing starts by selecting works that we hope to perpetuate. Once this selection has been made, our aim is that a first publication can be released within a few months. It also means working over a long period of time, allowing authors to regularly update their works so that they remain relevant and support them as long as possible.

This applies to reference works, of course. In the midst of the endless noise of information, we believe that writing remains, more than ever, a priority to understand complex subjects. But in a fast-moving world, books must absolutely evolve to remain current.  

This applies equally to testimonials, stories and portraits. It is difficult for an individual to share his or her story in a book while it is still being written. Proposing that authors regularly revisit their work gives them another perspective.To do this, it is vital to favour a concise format, an elegant but simple layout, prints adjusted to demand, a spirit of collaboration, so that the implementation of these different stages of the book is economically viable.

Our aim is to publish long-lasting books and to support them for a long time!