Bookstore battle in French election race

5th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 5, 2007 (AFP) - Bookstores have become a key battleground in the last mile of the French presidential race, with a record 110 titles hitting the shelves, from nuts-and-bolts analysis of the issues to intimate confessions from the candidates themselves.

PARIS, April 5, 2007 (AFP) - Bookstores have become a key battleground in the last mile of the French presidential race, with a record 110 titles hitting the shelves, from nuts-and-bolts analysis of the issues to intimate confessions from the candidates themselves.

Bad news for the Socialist candidate Segolene Royal, currently second in the polls: a virulent attack on her campaign and personality, written by a senior defector from her party, currently tops national sales across all categories.

"Who knows Madame Royal?" by the Socialists' former economics chief Eric Besson, who resigned in a row over the financing of Royal's campaign promises, describes the candidate as a glory-hunting populist.

The first 50,000 copies flew off the shelves within weeks of publication last month and a second print-run has been ordered.

Royal hit back last week with the release of a book of interviews with the French editor of Elle magazine, an A to Z of French politics in which she talks about her family, feminism and political life.

Sales figures for Royal's book, "Maintenant" (Now) were not yet available, but its release followed a first aborted project: a much-awaited book based on interactive debates on her website, which never materialised.

Book sales have mirrored the fortunes of the main candidates: a book by the centrist Francois Bayrou, "Project of Hope", shot into the best-seller charts last month as he emerged as a possible "Third Man" in the race. As his poll figures have levelled off, so have sales of his book.

Right-wing frontrunner Nicolas Sarkozy stole a march on his rivals with the release last summer of a political autobiography called "Testimony", which has sold at least 160,000 copies nationwide -- 300,000 according to his editor.

On Monday the candidate for the governing UMP party released a new book called "Ensemble" (Together), presented as a "letter to the French" and aimed at rallying undecided voters to his camp.

The book's publication was pulled forward to appear in time for Easter weekend -- when his party hopes "the campaign will cristallise around family dinner tables" -- and it will be put on sale at markets around the country.

With a high proportion of French voters unsure who to back in the April 22 first round -- 46 percent said recently they had yet to make up their mind -- the candidates hope a good turn-of-phrase could just make the difference.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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