“Bibliodiversity” in Quebec’s book industry

lecture québec

April 23 was UNESCO’s World Book Day, so I’ve had a look at Quebec’s French-language book industry. 

Would it surprise you to hear that French-language Canadian books outsell English-language Canadian books two-to-one?

Why is this? 

It has a lot to do with Quebec’s effective cultural policies. 

Quebec isn’t the only province that publishes and sells books in French, but as home to most of Canada’s Francophones, its policies have a large impact on the industry. 

Consider its “book law”, which passed in 1979. Bill 51 created a “made-in-Québec” book supply chain and an accreditation process that has meant that Quebec’s libraries, schools, and government institutions have “bought local” for over four decades. This has created a much stronger cultural economy and kept money in the province. 

Quebec has designed and funded its public library system well, and it also markets Canadian French-language books all over the world through trade missions and book gatherings like the Salon du Livre de Montréal, Canada’s largest event for publishing professionals. 

The “bibliodiversity” of Quebec’s book industry has not gone unnoticed in other parts of the world. For example, in 2017, Quebec City became UNESCO’s first Francophone City of Literature, honouring its 250 local authors and the over 100 organizations, publishers, and booksellers who operate there. 

 

Catherine Fisher, blogger