Coronavirus: Indigo, Penguin Random House want bookstores deemed essential in Ontario

Coronavirus: Indigo, Penguin Random House want bookstores deemed essential in Ontario

TORONTO — Two of the Canadian literary industry’s biggest brands are calling on the Ontario government to designate bookstores as essential services — even as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.

Retailer Indigo Books & Music Inc. and publisher Penguin Random House Canada both say bookstores should be allowed to remain open as COVID-19 restrictions are tightened because they provide resources that educate and contribute positively to communities coping with the pandemic.

“A shut down of physical bookstores would have serious consequences on the well-being of Canadians young and old, as well as the livelihood of authors and booksellers, across the country,” Indigo said in a statement to The Canadian Press.

Penguin Random House Canada chief executive Kristin Cochrane echoed those statements in a letter she wrote to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, where she argued that the combination of low margins and high postal and distribution costs mean online sales are not a viable option for most bookstores during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“Online retailers alone do not have the supply chain capacity to service the book business in Ontario without severely underserving many readers and communities, as we saw during the first wave of the pandemic, when books were deprioritized,” she said.

“Nor can the books category be left in the hands of online retailers without serious impact on the reach of Canadian stories, authors, illustrators, and voices _ and the long-standing vibrancy and diversity of our retail ecosystem.”…

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