The Que sais-je? series is an essential reference title, something missing in the English language market. French reference books on the whole are better than English ones, and there are a number of gaps in the anglophone reference publishing business. But anglo firms have been catching up in recent years, particularly British publishers motivated largely by an enormous demand from English-second language users. In my particular field – lexicography – the British Collins Cobuild dictionary and its copycats at other British firms are well ahead of their French equivalents.
Still, French publishers have two big products with no adequate equivalents in the English-speaking world: the encyclopedic dictionary and the Que sais-je? Although this new English Que sais-je? is written for a francophone market, I do wonder if this doesn’t augur a change in reference publishing. Will French firms now start moving into English reference book publishing? Will Que sais-je? become as indispensable in English as it is in French?