He agreed to answer to some questions about the Livre Sans Poche… (livre sans poche : literally, book without a pocket)
A: I suppose I could do it. But I let you introduce the idea of Livres Sans Poches…
Y: The "Livres Sans Poches" are thin-sized photocopied fanzines (A6, black and white, 16 pages) which are distributed according to the bookcrossing principle. This means that each copy is given away or made available in a public place so it can be read by someone who in turn will make it available to somebody else etc. Thus the books circulate from reader to reader and belong to everybody and nobody at the same time. Also, there is a website where people are welcome to comment, write about the places where they found the books and the way in which they passed them on… The books are numbered, which makes it possible to trace the different routes they cover. On this website you can also print out the books and make use of them as you wish.
A: Considering the random distribution of these fanzines and their wide accessibility, do you envisage any mismatch in the interaction between the books and a public which they were not intended for?
Y: Obviously, this distribution principle is part of the book project (to facilitate comprehension, the principle is quite plainly exposed on the fourth cover so that anybody who might come across such a book can grasp the essence). Thus, total freedom being allowed, all readers are invited to involve dynamically and creatively in the physical life of these books by choosing where to make them available, by sharing opinions through the website and even by uploading photos of abandoned books. In conclusion there are no mismatches actually, but a wide range of possibilities implied by the concept. On the other hand, I can see the meaning underlying your question, given the fact that all the books fundamentally embrace the same aesthetics. However I don’t think that the concept of 'Livre Sans Poche' implies creating a book deprived of originality, just to match any taste. In other words, I just publish things that I like, and that's the bottom line.
A: On the back cover of the book which you allowed me to create I made the suggestion for readers to discreetly slip some Livres Sans Poches inside other books… This was my reaction to the prospective that some Livres Sans Poches might end up being available in bookshops. Can't this attitude be interpreted as a desire to assimilate the distribution facilities? Is this not an incentive to use these facilities for other purposes and without formalities?
Y: No doubt, I created Livres Sans Poches in reaction to the issues that the distribution of fanzines might involve in terms of price, merchandising etc.. I had a huge desire to say FUCK: nobody creates fanzines to make money; then why should we play the vendors to distribute our books? The bookcrossing concept offers the possibility to deliver books outside the merchandising system and this is very good. Your proposition to squat bookshops may be regarded as a kind of invitation to pirate the system... Ok, why not? But as far as I'm concerned I would say that there are other alternatives available, to elude the current 'culture diffusion' marketing system. It is slightly utopian but that is the reason I feel even more motivated to fight."
A: Any notable reactions from authors or readers?
Y: In general, all the people to whom I presented the concept - mostly during the comix festivals, were very receptive…. The only decidedly negative feedback came from a book dealer labeled “if I like a book I keep it”. Of course! But the Livre sans Poche concept states exactly the opposite!
G : My analogy may be far-fetched but I've noted in the Livre Sans Poche a quite strong connection to reality : the content of the book isn’t confined to what’s between its covers. I feel pretty much the same about your drawings and music (listen to Yann's music here).
Y : As regards my drawings I’m not sure we can establish a correlation with reality because my art is never mimetic. I always draw from memory. My images aren’t real: they are pure fantasies playing with this pretence of the seeming reality. Getting back to Livres Sans Poches, we deal with books, which are real, tangible objects. As to the wide range of possibilities offered by the Internet, in our opinion they represent a valid option. I think that one of the fundamental ideas of bookcrossing is to show that the exchange processes which develop by means of the Internet can also be found in the physical world. This is beyond doubt a very utopian point of view. But I believe that it opens new paths for reflection. And there’s still a long way to go!