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French Publisher Tries Polish Line
Herbert R. Lottman -- 11/17/97
There can't be many Western trade publishers who have bothered to test the newly liberated markets of Eastern Europe by going it alone, but that's what France's Hachette has done. After an initial and successful test with four practical books from its Marabout paperback series, Hachette's CEO, Jean-Louis Lisimachio, has given the green light to the launching of a Polish-language equivalent of the French group's ubiquitous Livre de Poche (pocket book) line. Using a simple translation of the French logo -- Ksiazka do Kieszeni -- the Polish series begins with five titles of Polish and international fiction (from Scott Turow, Ira Levin and Thomas Mann -- but no French author in the first batch), practical and children's books.
The structure on the Polish side is light, consisting of local freelance editing, pre-press facilities and distribution; the printing will be handled by Hachette's regular plant in France. According to French trade weekly Livres Hebdo, each title on the first list got an 8000-copy printing. If all g s well, a second list will go out next spring. In a country lacking a paperback reprint tradition, notes Le Figaro's Warsaw correspondent, Hachette is likely to find itself being an original publisher competing directly with Polish publishers, a possibility that has already raised cries of alarm. To meet such objections, Hachette will not rule out buying rights jointly with Polish publishers and becoming their reprinter.

In a time of industrywide slump in trade sales, Hachette Livre remains bullish on books. In a recent buy, Hachette acquired 85% of the prestigious art publisher Hazan.
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