July 31, 2021

The Mitterrand family takes a stake in Christian Bourgois Editeur

From construction to publishing, from stone to book. At 75, Olivier Mitterrand, the founder and chairman of the supervisory board of the Les Nouveaux Constructeurs group, specializing in the promotion of new housing and offices, is investing in the publishing house founded by Christian Bourgois. Announced Wednesday, January 9, this entry – minority – in the capital is made through the investment company of the Mitterrand family, Premier Investissement.

For Dominique Bourgois, president of the publishing house since the death in 2007 of her husband Christian Bourgois, it is “A long-term strategic partnership”. The new shareholder guarantees him “Total independence” and it can be backed by a financial partner. Christian Bourgois Editeur does not file his accounts with the commercial court. However, its turnover would fluctuate, depending on the year, between 1.7 and 1.9 million euros, and its net results are not always profitable.

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“I remain at the head of the company, we keep the staff [cinq salariés, hors correcteurs] and the same premises. This does not in any way call into question the distribution and broadcasting agreements concluded with the Madrigall group. [Gallimard] », explains Dominique Bourgois to World. Neither the latter nor Olivier Mitterrand, president of Premier Investissement, give the amount of the investment made. In a statement, they claim that the operation is taking place “In respect and continuity of the intellectual heritage and the editorial, foreign and French policy of Christian Bourgois”.

Since its creation in 1966, the publishing house of Christian Bourgois has published a myriad of prestigious writers, including Jorge Luis Borges, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg …

“The agreements provide that Premier Investissement will take control when I leave”, says Dominique Bourgois, who has been friends with Olivier Mitterrand’s brother, Frédéric (former Minister of Culture) for forty years. Dominique Bourgois had also considered last year an alliance – which finally stumbled – with Vera Michalski-Hoffmann, CEO of Libella (Buchet / Chastel, Noir sur Blanc, Delpire …).

Since its creation in 1966, the publishing house of Christian Bourgois, located rue du Bac, in the 7e arrondissement of Paris, has published a myriad of prestigious writers, including Jorge Luis Borges, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Ernst Jünger, Susan Sontag but also Boris Vian, Georges Perec and Jean-Christophe Bailly.

Increase in takeovers and concentrations in the sector

Nearly a thousand titles appear in the catalog of the various collections managed, over the years, by Pierre Boulez, Jean-Claude Zylberstein or Jean-Christophe Bailly. In 1989, when the Satanic verses, Salman Rushdie had been threatened with death by a fatwa, while Christian and Dominique Bourgois had also had to get used to living for several years with bodyguards.

“We will continue to publish around thirty books each year”, details Dominique Bourgois, who can count on three “stars” in sales: JRR Tolkien, the writer of the saga The Lord of the Rings, but also Toni Morrison and Fernando Pessoa. This year, the president is planning in particular a last opus by Antonio Lobo Antunes, a new essay by Toni Morrison, an investigation by the American journalist Amy Goldstein Janesville, dedicated to General Motors, or Angels by Pierre Edeikins, a generational book on sex just before the “AIDS years”.

What does this first capital-intensive operation mean in publishing in 2019? It is in line with the accentuation of takeovers and concentrations in this sector. Since December 2017, major acquisitions have taken off again: Média Participations has taken over Editions La Martinière, while Editis – the number two in France – has been absorbed into the bosom of Vivendi.

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This spiral of increasing publisher turnover and activity has hardly ceased last year, even with much smaller houses. Editis has thus taken over the Héloïse d’Ormesson editions, Hachette Livre has joined the La Plage editions, specializing in ecological themes. Humensis, for its part, acquired the Editions des Equateurs, and Albin Michel bought the Leduc.s editions, focused on personal development.

Likewise, the Student’s editions have changed hands. This wave of redemptions is developing in a gloomy context. Indeed, despite a strong rebound at Christmas, the GFK institute expects sales to decline by 0.3% in 2018 compared to 2017.