Page 44 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

Basic HTML Version

38
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
queried responded . Arnold Mandel, men tioned above, rep lied to
ou r written questionnaire at length, as did Roger Berg, fo rm e r
ed ito r o f the
Journal des Communautes
, a monthly which merged
recently with
Information ju ive
. Berg has been an observer o f the
French Jewish scene fo r the last ha lf century . A th ird book
reviewer to respond was Annie-Claude Gugenheim , co-editor o f
Hamore.
T he editors o f several publishing companies which pu t
ou t Juda ica series were also asked to provide accurate data on
the ir publications.3 These French co rresponden ts, o f course,
reflected their individual interests and approaches. Thus , as
stated, a full picture o f the Jewish publishing scene in France can­
not be obtained. On the o the r hand , the re is much value to assess­
ments o f the experts in the field.
GENERAL TRENDS
A partial evaluation o f non-fiction books is provided by the list­
ings o f
Les livres de Vannee.-Biblio
,4
where th ree categories are to be
found: “Juda ism ,” “Jews,” and “State o f Israel.” I selected two five-
year periods, 1965-1969 and 1975-1979, for study. In the sixties,
an average o f 33.8 non-fiction titles were listed; ten years later,
the average was 50.2. This was markedly d iffe ren t from the trend
in the USA, where, beginning with the 1970’s, the total p rodu c ­
tion o f new Jewish books started to decline af te r a five-year boom,
apparen tly because o f rising production costs.5 During these
same years, the French Juda ica market rema ined strong, with a
la rger selection o f Jewish non-fiction books being p roduced .
A lthough the production costs and prices o f books peaked in the
1970’s in France, these did not preven t expansion. This expan ­
sion may be the result o f two factors: T he growing awareness on
the pa r t o f the Jewish community o f its cultural heritage, and the
broad interest shown by French society. These two factors, which
are fairly recent, have stimulated sales despite growing produc-
3 We sent out questionnaires to Mrs. Marie-Pierre Bay, director o f the series at
Stock, to Janine Gdalia, director o f the series at Lattes, to Louis Cohn,
executive-director of the series at Albin-Michel, and to Roger Errera, director
of the series at Calman-Levy publishing house. Only Errera responded.
4
Les livres de Vannee.-Biblio, bibliographie generate des ouvrages de languefrangaise,
published yearly by the
Cercle de la Librairie,
Paris.
5 See my article, “Le marche du livre d’interetjuif aux Etats-Unis,”
Yod, Revue des
Etudes hebraiques et juives modemes et contemporaines,
vol. 8, Spring 1983.