Books exist within the ecosystem in France, the tax on books is not the same as on other products. When supplying and sourcing, Lauriane Pigot looks to a variety of contributors for each item
An offshoot of the Galerie Perrotin chain, Perrotin’s bookshops are based in Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul. Their flagship gallery and store are situated inside of an Eighteenth-century mansion in Paris’ Le Marais district; home to museums, art galleries, and boutiques. Perrotin’s Paris Bookshop Manager, Lauriane Pigot, tells us the bookshop’s surroundings have influenced their French clientele. «We adapt to our public. Le Marais is known for its art galleries and it is a tradition in the neighborhood to come out every Saturday after lunch and tour the galleries. People start at 3 pm and spend the afternoon gallery hopping». Perrotin’s customer-base and attitudes differ from city to city with Paris having book aficionados, «in Paris people have an affection for books which is why we sell quantities of artist books, but the artist’s popularity changes between cities». Founded in 1990 by Emmanuel Perrotin, Perrotin represents artists including Takashi Murakami, Daniel Arsham, and Sophie Calle where his motive has been to champion emerging artists and showcase them to the world. Over the years, the gallery space has shifted its focus towards its publication of editorial content, catalogs, editions, and artist merchandise available at their bookshops. «The bookshop space provides Perrotin-published books, books from our artists, products like posters and prints», says Pigot.
Pigot acknowledges that they are relying on their online store for sales. «We have few visitors in the physical store but noticed an increase in traffic of people on our web stores». Perrotin has had their online store for years now which has made the transition smoother for her and her bookshop team. The store’s curation contains their in-house publications like the Perrotin Yearbook. The yearbook started in 2018 as a chronological-compilation of the gallery’s happenings in that year. Since 2020, the gallery has shifted to an online archiving system that will be accessible to everyone. Through the digital archive, «we show our artists work, fairs we participated in and we push to have interviews or conversations documented by video, sound, and writing». The gallery and store publish artist books, monographs, or subjects they determine have not been explored. «We do not have guidelines; we publish books about a series or a monograph. It depends on the project and occasion. If an artist has ten books about their work, we prioritize those that do not». On Perrotin’s website, you will find a section dedicated to Takashi Murakami. The reason being founder Emmanuel and Murakami have worked together since 1995 where Emmanuel helped the Artist showcase his first solo exhibition in France.According to Pigot, Murakami is one of their sought-after artists, and their website visitors are looking for his work. «It is an aid to have this section as we have noticed visitors are looking for his work. We look to improve the navigation on our website for our visitors to find what they need with the least number of clicks».
When displaying their items in the stores, Perrotin creates a cohesion between the exhibition hosted at their gallery space and the products displayed at their store. With every exhibition, Pigot and her team rearrange their books and add selections by displaying prints and posters on the walls. «We attempt to change with every exhibition because we have an abundance of items and not enough space to show the entirety of our collections. A rotation is a way we can manage to have each product displayed». Pigot and the Perrotin team want their products to be in reach to their visitors and collectors from overseas but there are products that remain reserved for one city. «We strive to avoid exclusivity. Our products are manufactured in Paris but some are produced in New York. We have a team working in Paris and New York». ForMaurizio Cattelan’s show during the fair in Miami they produced t-shirts that were revealed to the American public first as the exhibition had started there. Products are placed in a way to make sense for the artist, their show, and the gallery. Perrotin wants to create merchandise that coincides with their artist’s identity. «We are not interested in sticking a picture on a mug. We need our products to make sense in regard to the artist’s work. We work with our art director to make the products». Books exit within their ecosystem in France, the tax on books is not the same as on other products. When supplying and sourcing, Perrotin looks to a variety of contributors for each item, «we find something that would maintain harmony with the project». When it comes to Maurizio Cattelan’s brand and magazine Toilet Paper, Pigot says they have worked with Seletti since their inception, «when the item is produced, we show up and purchase it». When it comes to production, «there is no rule. We find the solution that fits. For t-shirts, we have a U.S-based producer, but for our summer exhibition, we worked to source a t-shirt that was printed in Paris with quality fabric. It depends on the project».
Over the years, Pigot says the art world has seen a rise in popularity with notables, signed items, and prints. «There was a crash thirty years ago because people who were producing those prints were not vigilant with how they protected them. There would be limited-editions with an occasional-second-run, it made people lose interest in printing and notables. We have seen customers coming in for those items that have been overlooked in the past years. People are able to afford prints with engravings or a miniature-sculpture». She suspects the seriousness taken in authenticating, tracking, and archiving these products has increased the interest, «if I sell number 40 in a batch of 100, someone can come in years later and we can verify that. We have a system». In regard to the betterment of printing technique and quality over the years, she says, «we can have prints in low-quantities for budgets. The manufacturers and printers are flexible allowing us to have results of quality». Bookstore’s use paper when printing their books but Pigot mentions there are standards in place within the European field. They use vegetable ink and paper that comes from FC Forests which avoid risks of deforestation. When shipping online orders, Perrotin’s bookstore works with cardboard, tissue wrapping, and paper-made tape. «We make an effort to source our packaging responsibly». When speaking of political and social issues, Pigot agrees that books are political which is why they offer a selection, addressing topics like feminism and colonization in art. «The book and arts field has been looking into these subjects».
The French government asked for bookstores to be closed in France as books were not seen as a ‘necessity’. There has been a change in the French attitude toward book culture, «people have been predicting the end of printing letters and books for a while, but since the first lockdown, there has been a run of books in France. It is returning to the printed book». She calls it a phoenix rising from the ashes moment, to see the book sector flourishing after issues and debates about the digitization of the medium. «In the last month, I have witnessed a reappearing and reappreciation. That is the case for bookstores, not for our bookstore alone». Perrotin has seen their artists collaborate with the fashion world in the past years. «There is a growing interest from the luxury sector. We see customers coming in from the fashion field». The bookstore does carry items of exuberance, but they are cheaper than artwork, «what we have is luxury, but we attempt to remain accessible. We are democratic in what we produce and propose». Pigot seems hopeful for the future of Perrotin, «we are expecting the arrival of articles in print. We are releasing two series of prints shortly. We have books and a monograph that should be here by March or April 2021. We do have a number of projects coming up this year as we are publishing a variety of items». Apart from selling products, the bookshop hosts a show-and-tell with exhibition project staff or experts. «If the artist performs as expected after their opening, we organize a talk or discussion that is open to the public, something we have not been able to do during the pandemic».IMAGE GALLERY
76 Rue de Turenne