The Books Can Stay | God's World News

The Books Can Stay

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    Visitors pass a bookseller in Paris, France. (AP/Christophe Ena)
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    Booksellers’ stalls line the banks of the river Seine. (AP/Christophe Ena)
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Booksellers in Paris, France, can say a big merci to French President Emmanuel Macron. He decided their iconic stalls can stay in place during July’s Olympic Games.

If you’re looking for a book—and you don’t mind reading French—Paris has no shortage of booksellers. Hundreds of green bookselling boxes dot the banks of the Seine River. But French officials had said the boxes must move before the 2024 Olympics. The opening ceremony will take place on the Seine. National teams will sail down a stretch of the river. Hundreds of thousands of visitors will watch. The book boxes, officials said, might pose a security threat. Criminals could use them to hide explosive devices or other weapons.

The booksellers’ association banded together. Booksellers would rather temporarily shut down than move. Their wooden boxes have stood in the same place for decades. If moved, the boxes could suffer damage.

The bouquinistes (booksellers) of the Seine trace their roots to the 16th century. The French government determined the official size and shape of the green boxes in 1930. Since then, the iconic stretch of bookselling stalls has become part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Many Paris booksellers felt abandoned in recent years. Sales plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic, when tourists couldn’t visit. Some sellers feared going bankrupt if forced to shut down for the Olympics.

But on February 13, a statement came from the Élysée presidential palace. Macron asked the Paris police “to ensure that all booksellers are preserved and that none of them be forced to move.” The president called the Seine’s booksellers an example of the “living heritage of the capital.”

As for security concerns, Macron says officials will adapt. They will take extra precautions to make sure the opening ceremonies stay safe and fun for everyone.

Macron hopes to make space for the security of France’s guests and the livelihood of its booksellers. Visitors to the 2024 Olympics will get to see Paris in all its glory.