This is one of the trades that make Paris’ soul. All along the Seine riverbanks, there usually are 230 big green boxes opening and full of sketching, rare books and other treasures sold by second-hand book sellers. Like paintings of landscapes we can find, they play a part in the charm of the French capital.
During lockdown, the famous boxes remained closed in a contained Paris. From May 11, second-hand book sellers came back by the Seine. Usually, many passersby stop there because they have fell in love with a work, and collectors come and look for rare editions. But after two months of lockdown, and even though it has slightly resumed, second-hand book sellers’ timeless and fascinating world is jeopardized.
Yet listed on France’s intangible cultural heritage, second-hand book sellers embody very ancient art-de-vivre and know-how that could disappear. A petition supported by the Association Culturelle des bouquinistes de Paris and its president Jérôme Callais has gone live online to spread the cry for help for this job at risk.
In an interview with Le Figaro, Jérôme Callais delivered a catastrophic report: “We are in week four of the containment exit, and 90% of clients are not here. Without foreign, province tourists and inhabitants from the suburbs that fear using public transport, there are only local inhabitants. To give you a number, our turnover is around 5 and 10 euros per day… This is tragic”. Already recognized as part of the French heritage, this job hopes to be recognized as part of UNESCO World Heritage it calls for help: let us not let them down.