French authors, booksellers and publishers implore the French government to allow bookstores to stay open because reading is “essential” as the country enters a four-week nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
France’s second lockdown, announced Wednesday evening by President Emmanuel Macron, will begin at midnight on Thursday. Macron said he hoped this would put a “sharp brake” on the infection rate, with France “overwhelmed by the accelerating spread of the virus”. All non-essential businesses, including bars and restaurants, must close, while individuals will need affidavits to leave their homes.
But in a joint declaration, the association of French publishers, the National Publishing Union (SNE), joined with its association of booksellers, the Syndicat de la Librairie Française (SLF), and the group of authors , the Permanent Council of Writers (CPE), in a call for bookstores to remain open alongside supermarkets and pharmacies.
France has more than 3,000 independent bookstores, and professional associations have underlined “an extraordinary appetite for reading among the French”, especially in recent months.
“Leave our bookstores open so that social confinement does not also become cultural isolation”, they write. “Our readers, who love independent bookstores, would not understand it and would experience it as an injustice… books satisfy our need for understanding, reflection, escape, distraction, but also sharing and communication.
« Reading is livingThey say: to read is to live.
France’s first lockout saw bookstores shut down, with the majority also suspending online orders to protect staff, customers and delivery services. On Wednesday, one of Paris’ most famous bookstores, Shakespeare and Company, said it had seen an 80% drop in sales since March and called on customers to help it as it faces “times. difficult ”.
While the closures at the beginning of the year “deeply hurt the book industry”, the shops were now prepared and “perfectly able to welcome readers in a new confinement, in safe and proven sanitary conditions … We are ready to assume our cultural and health responsibilities. “