Many are worried that France’s independent bookshops – already struggling against large retailers and online giants – may not survive being forced to close for a second Covid-19 lockdown.
France’s independent bookshops were forced to close as the country entered a second phase of lockdown on October 30 to stop the recrudescence of Covid-19 cases. Unions and others have criticised the decision and are organising initiatives to support booksellers.
“Since theatres and cinemas are closed, bookshops are the last place where you can have access to culture,” said Anne Martelle, president of the Union of French Booksellers. “Going to a bookshop is a low-risk cultural activity, so it’s a shame to stop it.”
In recent days, France’s cultural community has spared no effort in lobbying the government to keep bookshops open. The sector’s main unions issued a joint statement on October 28 asking the authorities to “leave them open so that the lockdown doesn’t lead to cultural isolation”.
Journalist and literary critic François Busnel launched a petition against their closure on Friday. Closing bookshops means “depriving us of the best weapon we have to fight malevolent ideas”, he told the Franceinfo media network, referring to the terrorist attack at the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Nice the previous day.