This article in the NY Times claims to refute caricatures of socialistic Paris, but seems to do the opposite. France has passed laws to keep book prices high, in a bid to save a handful of bookstore owners. While I too mourn the end of bookstores, as an economist, I feel for the millions of French book consumers forced to pay higher prices. It is basic supply and demand. In the US where books are cheap, lots of people read. 76% of Americans read a book last year which is higher that most countries in Europe .Although France is not in that dataset for some reason, I couldn't find the data on France specifically, but I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers of book readers are lower in France.