Independent bookstore L’Oiseau Vigie in Saint-Pierre-des-Corps defends “bibliodiversity”

Fabienne Yvain is one of those enthusiasts converted in the name of the love of books. On the occasion of the independent bookshop festival on Saturday 27 April 2024, he talks to us about this profession, whose creed is the defense of “bibliodiversity”.

Where did you get the desire to enter this profession as an independent bookseller, at the age of 55, after a career in the industry?

Fabienne Yvain: “I had a holiday home in Uzeste (Gironde), where a multifaceted festival takes place every year. Every year, a federal bookstore was set up in the neighboring house. One day the organizers could no longer have the premises and I suggested they set it up at my house… I found myself as a bookseller for five years running, I loved it. One day someone provoked me by inviting me to open my bookstore. The idea caught on. »

How did you imagine your bookstore?

“They say every bookstore is like its bookseller! I wanted to make it a place of culture, meeting and living. And this is possible only in a regular bookstore. As for the choice of Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, it is a geographical opportunity, since there was no bookshop with strong potential in this town of 16,000 inhabitants, especially thanks to the ongoing gentrification. It’s also a city I like, with a huge diversity of people and profiles: it’s a city with a soul. »

Three years on, have you experienced any surprises compared to what you imagined?

“No real surprise as I prepared myself. When I get resumes, people who say, “I love reading, I want to do this job,” I say, “Do you like to carry boxes? ” (she is smiling). In addition, beautiful things happen every day, wonderful meetings. We are in the neighborhood and feel good there! »

Your typical day?

“I’m completely on my own. Before opening, I deal with relations with distributors, customer requests, organizing events… When I open, there’s still order, deliveries to manage – we received 90 kg of books this morning alone! – and of course we welcome customers. After closing you have to do the cash register, bookkeeping, and work on new release programs They say a bookseller works an average of sixty hours a week… I don’t count reading!

Independent bookstores thrive despite competition from internet sales or screens. How do we get people to come to the bookstore?

“That’s the question I stumble over. It’s a job that relies more and more on social media, and I don’t really like that. There’s the fact that we do a lot of events, take care of his windows, curbside… And I have to say, my bookstore has benefited from excellent word of mouth. I’ve even seen families here showing “their” bookstore to relatives! I also think selling second-hand books, for €1 or €2, played a role. My goal is to break down the fears that some people have about entering, to make people feel at home. »

How do you choose books with limited sales space?

“On a sales area of ​​63 m2, I offer 7,500 titles for 9,000 books: that’s too much! I’m not much for the logic of new things. I would say that I know my customers and that I am proud that my readers trust me. There are some rather intimate books that I’ve defended a lot and sold well; on the contrary, sometimes I regret that I did not find time to defend a book that interested me. To help me, I also have a small group of test readers who give me feedback. »

We’re talking about an “independent bookstore.” How would you define this independence?

“The first thing is that all the books that are here are chosen – for good or bad reasons. Playing the “bibliodiversity” card costs booksellers, especially with regard to suppliers. Maybe that’s the limit of independence. »

What is this “Bibliversity” you are defending?

“Bibliverism means that not everyone has to read the same thing, that there are many authors and publishers to discover, and that a book that is more than a year old is still good to read! »

On Saturday, April 27, L’Oiseau Vigie is participating in the 26E edition of the Independent Bookstore Festival and is hosting a book signing with Thomas Zribi and Damien Roudeau, author and designer of the comic “Rwanda, in Search of a Genocide” (published by Les Escales-Steinkis) at 5:30 p.m.

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