Reference French Bookshops: obtaining official recognition

To foster the availability of books in the French language abroad by facilitating le development of a network of approved bookshops offering a rich and varied selection in the French language and actively engaged in their promotion.

Eligibility criteria

General conditions

  • an operating firm offering French works for sale for at least 3 years
  • head office and establishments concerned by the application must be located outside French territory
  • a bookshop commercialising exclusively French books, or international bookshops commercialising books in the French language


  • trained in the profession of bookselling
  • purchase and sales of books must be ensured by a competent French-speaking team trained in the appropriate skills


  • autonomous in their selection of stock
  • a significant part of the yearly revenue must come from the sale of French books. The French book offer must be varied
  • for French bookshops: at least 1 500 titles in French
  • for international bookshops: at least 1 000 titles in French
  • a significant part of the yearly revenue must come from the retail sales of books: not less than 50%
  • a significant part of the yearly revenue must come from the sales of works other than school books and FFL methods: not less than 25%
  • respect the legal supplies network, refusing to sell counterfeit copies
  • practice fair public prices adapted to the market


  • guarantee a quality commercial service by offering information and advice to clients, in particular permitting them to order single copies of books
  • work in partnership with other local players involved in the promotion of French culture, particularly the French book
  • organize events in and outside the shop

The application dossier:

The bookseller must supply:

  • the appropriate application form duly completed
  • the opinion of the Cultural Advisor
  • for bookshops who use local distributers: a written statement of the yearly purchase of books in French (operating account)
  • photos and a plan of the shop
  • for French bookshops, curriculum vitae of the person in charge of the bookshop, organisation chart of the personnel and their qualifications
  • for international bookshops with an offer of books in French, the curriculum vitae and a job description of the person in charge of the French section
  • a written presentation of the bookshop, its general activity, its clientele and its different campaigns to promote the sale of French books, especially to institutions (the French Embassy, French schools and colleges, the ‘Alliances’ and cultural Institutes)
  • a description of events organized by the bookshop over the last 12 months (number of events, target public, number of participants, place, nature of the event, partners if relevant)

Attribution criteria

Application dossiers are examined by the ‘French bookshops abroad’ commission which is made up of representatives of the administrations concerned, professional booksellers and other qualified members.

In view of the opinions given by the commission, decisions of attribution, refusal or adjournment are taken by the President of the CNL.

Should the application be refused, the bookshop may apply again after a period of twenty-four months.

Assessment criteria

  • quality, coherence and economic viability of the bookshop project
  • qualifications of the bookseller, skills and training of the teams
  • quality and variety of the selection on offer
  • quality and variety of the services offered for orders, providing information and advice
  • quality and variety of events to promote the French offer
  • economic context
  • opinion of the French Embassy in the country concerned

Validity of the Reference French Bookshop status

This official recognition lasts for three years.

Only those bookshops having obtained this status are eligible to receive grants and subsidies for the diversification and promotion of French stock from the Centre national du livre.

The request for official recognition can be submitted at the same time as an application dossier for the diversification and/or promotion of French stock.