How can we counter the phenomenon of editorial concentration, standardization or a globalizing culture? International Bibliodiversity Day is a way of responding to these very real and palpable concerns in the publishing world. Based on the same principles as biodiversity, the term “bibliodiversity” refers to the notion of diversity in the literary production offered to the reading public.
The current economic model means that 90% of the publishing market in France is held by around thirty major publishers. In the U.S., the situation is just as blatant, with 80% of book sales controlled by the five largest groups.
In the countries of the southern hemisphere, we deplore the absence of any real legislative framework, giving free rein to worrying predatory practices. The large companies established in these countries are taking over local publishing houses, and are even taking over the educational publishing market, a source of survival for independent publishing houses. In Latin America, the presence of these major groups is having far-reaching consequences. “… their commercial policies have contributed to destroying the network of traditional bookstores, in favor of commercial chains or superstores.” (SLACHEVSKY, Paulo, “Politiques et industries du livre : le cas du Chili”, L’accès au livre, édition solidaire et bibliodiversité, Bruxelles, Colophon éditions, 2003)
Beyond the economic considerations, Gilles Colleu points out the insidious impact of this phenomenon, which is very present in the countries of the southern hemisphere, but also in Africa and many other regions of the world: “In our desire to manufacture products for the greatest number, we forget and erase the notion of cultural specificity and identity […] Internationalization of book publishing reinforces the dominant position of Western cultures in all fields. ” (COLLEU, Gilles, Éditeurs indépendants: de l’âge de raison vers l’offensive? Paris, L’Alliance internationale des éditeurs indépendants, Coll. “État des lieux de l’édition”, 2006. p. 42)
The origin of the term “bibliodiversity” is attributed to Chilean publishers in the 1990s. It was taken up by the International Alliance of Independent Publishers when it was created in 2002. It wasn’t until 2010 that Bibliodiversity Day was established, on September 21, the day of spring in the southern hemisphere. The aim is to encourage various actions to stimulate the creation and dissemination of literary works, without being subject to the dictates of mass distribution, which limits the life expectancy of books to three months!
The Spanish-speaking network is both the oldest and the most active on this day. Initiatives from all over the world are nevertheless emerging, as in Australia, following the publication of Susan Hawthrone’s book on the subject, in which she also draws a parallel with the oppression of women. In her day, Virginia Woolf published her works in the publishing house she founded with her husband to counter the fearful attitude of publishers. (Bibliodiversité, manifeste pour une édition indépendante | Susan Hawthorne, translated from English by Agnès El Kaïm | Éditions Charles Léopold Mayer | 128 p.)