• Premier Doug Ford has been urged to label bookstores an essential service if another lockdown happens
  • The CEO of Penguin Random House Canada says bookstores "perform an essential role in their communities"
  • The CEO of Indigo Books says this is the first time in almost a decade that book sales are "up"

Canadian publishers and booksellers have urged Premier Doug Ford to declare bookstores an essential service if the government decides to impose a new lockdown in Ontario.

Kristin Cochrane, the CEO of Penguin Random House Canada, has written a letter to the Ontario premier and explained how books play a significant role in providing critical information to the residents of the province, Toronto Star first reported. Cochrane also shared that books could help in maintaining the “well-being of families” and children’s “mental health” amid the pandemic.

“We believe that the availability of books should be built into the strategy to maintain the well-being of Ontario communities and families,” Cochrane wrote in the letter.

“Bookstores perform an essential role in their communities, providing critical informational, entertainment, and educational resources for Ontarians. Most importantly during this time, books play a significant role in children’s education, cognitive development, and mental health,” she continued.

The media outlet also cited a survey from BookNet Canada, which revealed that 70% of the books sold in the country focused on mental health and self-care. The sales of activity books and sales of educational books have shown a good increase as well.

Speaking further about the matter, Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo Books, told the Star that it is important that bookstores remain open because this is the first time in almost a decade that book sales have gone “up,” especially for books that help people cope with their anxiety and depression.

“The important thing is the role that we have been playing in supporting education and mental well-being is so clear. For the first time in almost a decade not only are book sales up, educational materials that are supporting kids, creative activities, are experiencing huge increases. But also all the books that relate to anxiety, depression, mindfulness, the spike has been tenfold,” Reisman said.

Meanwhile, owners of various bookstores feel that December is always the best season for them and it will be hard for them to maintain balance if the government announces a lockdown right now.

Jo Paul, a partner in a bookstore called Type Books, noted that the holiday season is just around the corner and they are ready for the “busiest seven weeks of the entire year.”

The news comes almost a week after the iconic Paris bookstore Shakespeare and Company urged its readers to buy a book from their store so that it can recover from the losses it incurred due to the pandemic.

Canada witnessed 4,645 cases and 79 deaths due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. The nation’s tally is now at 315,754 cases and 11,265 deaths.

Bookstore in Canada
MacLeod's bookstore in the Gastown district of Vancouver BC has an extensive and incredible collection of antique books. April 2012 Photo by Julius Reque / Contributor via Getty Images