29 Jan Amélie Louat on Leaving International Publishing to Open an Indie Bookstore (S3 E3)
By Marleen Seegers, Co-Founder of 2 Seas Agency and Host of The Make Books Travel Podcast
January 29, 2022
Today’s guest is Amélie Louat, whom some of you may know from her time at the French independent publishing house Editions Zulma. Amélie did something that I believe is incredibly courageous: during the pandemic, she quit her job at Zulma, moved away from Paris with her family to a small town in Brittany, and opened an indie bookstore. I had so many questions for her, not only about how this major life change unfolded, but also about her bookstore, since she is the very first bookseller I had on the podcast.
Here are some of the questions I asked Amélie:
- When did you start thinking about a career in bookselling (and moving out of Paris)?
- What motivated you to make this switch?
- Why did you choose the town of La Gacilly?
- Can you tell us a bit about La Grande Evasion?
- How are you finding your new career in bookselling?
- What are for you the most striking similarities between the day-to-day activities of being a bookseller and working as an editor and rights seller, if any?
- What was/were the biggest challenge/s you faced when starting out?
- Do you miss the foreign rights/publishing world?
- Do you have any specific projects or ideas in mind for your bookstore?
Amélie’s book recommendations:
- Voyage au bout de l’enfance by Rachid Benzine (Le Seuil, 2022)
- The River by Peter Heller (Knopf, 2019; French edition La Rivière, Actes Sud, 2021)
Amélie Louat is the owner and founder of the indie bookstore La Grande Evasion in La Gacilly (Brittany). She spent 15 years working for independent French publishers, including 12 years for the innovative literary publisher Zulma. There, she acquired French rights of international authors, she created a non fiction series and she developed translation deals for Zulma’s authors all over the world. Among the authors she worked with are Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir (Iceland), Hubert Haddad (France), Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès (France), Dany Laferrière (Haïti), Marcus Malte (France), Shoshana Zuboff (USA), Zhang Yueran (China), Hwang Sok-yong (South Korea).
In 2021, she left Paris in order to create her own bookshop in La Gacilly, Brittany: 80 m2, around 6000 titles, book clubs, concerts, writing workshops, meetings with authors and passionate talks with her clients are now her daily life. Among books, La Grande Evasion also exhibits limited printruns of original illustrations from local artists.
About La Grande Evasion:
La Grande Evasion (in English: The Great Escape) is an independent bookstore created by Amélie Louat in La Gacilly, Brittany. It opened in May 2021. All kind of books are represented in the 80m2 shop, featuring around 6,000 titles: from high literature to comics, from artistic and coffee table books to social sciences, from graphic children’s literature to cookbooks.
Along with books, limited editions of illustrations and a small selection of notebooks and cards are proposed.
More than a shop, La Grande Evasion aims to be a place to talk, to meet authors, illustrators and translators. La Grande Evasion is supported by several partners, from public institutions to private companies or organizations: among them are Editions Zulma, l’ADELC and Initiative France.
La Grande Evasion : 21, rue La Fayette, 56 200 La Gacilly, France – firstname.lastname@example.org