Does Paris Love its Kiosks Enough?

Paris has had a love affair with its ornate newspaper kiosks for the past 150 years but there are growing fears they may disappear mainly because the Internet is eroding the market for printed media.

The Paris kiosk selling papers, magazines, tobacco and lottery tickets has been around for 150 years . But can they survive? Credit: François Grunberg Mairie de Paris

As a result the City of Paris has announced a campaign to persuade Parisians to show their kiosks more Tender Loving Care.

Paris City Hall warns its residents Love your Kiosk or Lose it

Concerned at the impact of falling newsprint sales on the survival chances of kiosks selling magazines and newspapers, the city is celebrating their contribution to Parisian life with a public awareness campaign.

It has also announced a broader list of goods and services the kiosquiers  are licensed to sell to include, wrapped food, personal hygiene goods, confectionery, beverages, souvenirs, bicycle hire and transport cards apart from the traditional lottery tickets, tobacco, maps and printed media. But fears remain they will disappear as the trend away from printed media to news consumed digitally on devices such as computers, iPads and mobiles, continues.

Click Kiosques to open the map on a full Google page 

According to the Paris City Hall website: The kiosks that are so integral a part of Paris street furniture, have been around for 150 years. Today there are 340 in the Paris. They account for 42% of all newspaper and magazine sales daily. 81% of the kiosks are considered to be emblematic of Paris — meeting the traditional design — while  88% of them are closely tied to the lives of their local neighborhoods. Further details are here 

Since 2005, the number of kiosks open has increased from 252 to 336 and for the next five years, the goal is to create 40 new kiosks in the city and reopen 10 that have closed due to lack of a tenant.

Un kiosquier près de chez vous par mairiedeparis

However the life of the kiosquier is tough and increasingly more difficult. For a detailed account of how the business works read Béatrice Leca’s interview with Pascal Clément published in the online paper L’Impossible. Pascal who lives in a Paris suburb is at his kiosk in Place Gambetta every morning at o400 to prepare for a day that doesn’t finish much before 2200.

Pascal says when he started there were some 400 to 500 magazines and newspapers on the market. “Today there are 1500, but 60% of them are rubbish and we only ever sell about half the number we take delivery of. The rest are unsaleable. The press barons sell advertising and do it on their print run not on their actual sales to the public. The unsold copies we send back are phenomenal. But every week a new magazine comes out. Sales for the publishers are icing on the cake, the real money is the advertising”.

Asked about the profitability of his sole trader business Pascal said: “We keep 21 % gross on each newspaper/magazine sold. My social charges (taxes and social security) come to 55 % — I pay some 3 000 euros a month. The kiosk is cheap, I pay 150 euros a month rent. But you can’t make money out of newspapers and magazines anymore. The guys that are earning well are those selling gadgets –   Eiffel towers, pictures of De Gaulle and so on. They can earn enough to buy a Porsche in a year and half, the rest of us earn 1 000, 1 500 euros, working more than 12 hours a day, outside and in all weathers. We never get to sit down all day long, its a killer.”

  • Where to find a paper on Sunday in Paris the City hall says more than 135 kiosks are open on Sunday and here is where to they are:

Here’s where to get a paper on a Sunday in Paris

  • For a good selection of photos and drawings of the famous Paris kiosks visit this site edited by CAROL GILLOTT, an American artist and writer who keeps tabs on matters Parisian.

Story: Ken Pottinger 

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