For the boycott of Amazon! For massive support for the book sector!

Grandstand. On the fourth day of confinement, two ministerial declarations came in turn to reveal the inconsistencies in health policy and the confusion maintained by the government. The Minister of Labor, Muriel Pénicaud, said “Scandalized” that the building craftsmen’s union called to close the construction sites. What is scandalous is that the minister is outraged. Because that’s what there is to do: containment. Solid and healthy scientific demonstrations are multiplying to demonstrate its exemplary effectiveness in order to stem the epidemic. Health protection also applies to workers. At the same time, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, said he was considering reopening bookstores. The Syndicat de la librairie française (SLF) has however indicated that it does not wish to do so. Health protection also applies to booksellers.

We love books. And we love the booksellers: their welcome, their knowledge, their exciting sharing. We miss them, of course. The joy will only be greater to find them when the epidemic is overcome. Our solidarity with bookstores and publishing houses will be flawless: they will need it. Perhaps this serious crisis will allow it to “change the base”? Perhaps it will be the decisive revealer of a deleterious system that must be broken? We hope.

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Strikes, strikes and the right of withdrawal are already exercised in many places. And this is obviously the case with Amazon, this terrible machine which, on the other hand, operates at full speed at the expense of its employees, whose health is endangered. Close investigations have already largely demonstrated the appalling working conditions that prevail there in normal times. They lifted the veil on a situation deemed critical as the psychosocial risks are high. Three-quarters of staff suffer from physical pain and report being under stress; a third suffer from insomnia; a quarter admits that he sometimes cries because of work. On a daily basis, the health of those who work in the e-commerce business was already considered damaged by implacable management with trauma at the end, humiliation in bullying and relentless surveillance. During “peaks” in deliveries, such as for the holiday season, the company demands to “outperform”, in violation of basic safety rules. The aggression made on working conditions as it is carried out today, in times of epidemic, is like the exponential prolongation of this human scandal in the name of a productivist logic at all costs.

Employees of the Amazon warehouse in Saran on strike against their working conditions against the coronavirus on March 18, 2020. Photo Mourad Guichard. REUTERS

We want to say to Bruno Le Maire: we must not reopen bookstores but support the book sector with all force against this monstrous competition which rubs shoulders with unworthiness. Support it well beyond the few promises. The figures announced are very meager: 5 million, really? While bookstores and publishing houses will suffer so much from this serious crisis. We are not experts in budgetary matters but we know some figures which make us think about the order of priorities. Large companies, some of which earn CAC 40, swallow up some 5 billion annually via the CICE. Five million for the book, we are told? Again, let’s compare: the Total company, whose profits amount to about 4 billion each year and whose CEO alone receives between 3 and 4 million, pocketing almost 30 million thanks to the famous CICE. We could also talk about tax exemptions or even evasion of the same name, and so many billions more. Or, to evoke the budgetary allocations to the confusing hierarchies, bring the 5 million to the 5 billion that the next aircraft carrier will cost.

As readers, we will do everything to help bookstores and publishers, by boycotting behemoths like Amazon, by pre-orders, by our happy returns to bookstores after the epidemic. But this elementary solidarity will not be enough. It is up to the government to take responsibility at the height of the crisis and to make worthy choices. We all have the right not only to hope for it, but to demand it.

Among the signatories: Michèle Audin, Étienne Balibar, Ludivine Bantigny, Esther Benbassa, Bertrand Bernard (Les éditions du Détour), Judith Bernard, Éric Beynel, Laurent Binet, Thomas Bout (Rue de échiquier), José Bové, Dominique Cabrera, Sophie Caillat (éditions du faubourg), Isabelle and Frédéric Cambourakis (Cambourakis editions), Patrick Chamoiseau, Johann Chapoutot, Stéphanie Chevrier (La Découverte), Vincent Charbonnier, Yves Citton, Dominique Cabrera, Déborah Cohen, Francis Combes (Le Temps des Cerises) , Alexis Cukier, Clara Laspalas and Marina Simonin (La Dispute and Les Éditions Sociales), François Cusset, Pierre Dardot, Christine Delphy, Annie Ernaux, Johan Faerber, Dan Franck, Camille Froidevaux-Metterie, Bernard Friot, Anne-Marie Garat, Sylvain George, François Gèze (The Discovery), Valentine Goby, Nacira Guénif, Béatrice Guillemard (Chant d’orties), Samuel Hayat, Edmond Janssen (Éditions Delga), Neil Jobard (La Magicieuse), Bernard Lahire, Beno t Laureau (éditions de l’Ogre), Charles-Henry Lavielle (Anarchasis), Pierre Lemaitre, Camille Louis, Michael Löwy, Christian Mahieux (Syllepse), Juliette Mathieu (Les éditions du Détour), Gérard Mordillat, Corinne Morel Darleux, Fred Morisse (Le bas du pavé), Olivier Neveux, Gérard Noiriel, Ugo Palheta, Chloé Pathé (Anamosa), Joël Pommerat, Amalia Rama (eXcès), Denis Robert, Christian Salmon, Benjamin Stora, Françoise Vergès, Nicolas Vieillescazes (Amsterdam), Sophie Wahnich, Louis Weber (Les éditions du croquant).

See the full list of signatories



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