Indigo and PRHC are asking for bookstores to be deemed essential services during the burgeoning shitshow lockdown that is Covid Wave 2 in Canada, and while I agree that reading will be essential, I’m not sure having an indoor gathering place where people finger the merch before buying is a great idea. I would point to the many indie bookstores who provided delivery, curb-side pickup, and other innovative ways to ensure readers were kept busy during the last lockdown as a model for others to follow. I realize this means Heather et al. won’t be able to sell as many candles, novelty textiles, porcelain garbage, and cheap plastic impulse items to people who enjoy pretending to be readers but who really just want to live a spread from Martha Stewart’s Living, but I super don’t care about Heather et al. Right now, this is an argument for the continuation of the slash and burn capitalism Indigo/Chapters wreaked on the Canadian bookselling landscape, not reading. Tough times for sure, but look what remaining-open-for-money has already wrought and tell me staying open during a spike is a good idea?
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.