The European and International Booksellers Federation issues a following statement:
As COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic continues to spread around the world, many countries are imposing drastic measures to try and contain it. In countries such as Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and Belgium, all stores considered as non-essential, bookstores among them, have been required to close. This prescribed closure of bookstores is a threat to financial sustainability of many businesses in the bookselling industry.
Health and safety of all people and communities is top priority for all, but we need to recognise the impact prolonged closure will have on small- and medium-sized businesses that rely on physical presence of customers. Booksellers offer an important contribution to communities and society as a whole from educational, cultural, and financial point of view.
Many booksellers are going above and beyond to sustain their services to customers – who are currently self-isolating at their homes – but they face numerous challenges. Many bookstores that our members represent have limited, or no, infrastructure to support online sales in these unprecedented times. In addition, while offering home deliveries, they are exposing themselves to higher risks.
Closure of brick and mortar bookstores compromises their profitability and puts under question their, already fragile, economic situation. Local bookstores greatly contribute to communities and districts, offering needed services, providing job opportunities, and contributing safe meeting spaces that online retailers can’t provide. Ensuring these businesses can overcome these uncertain times is critical to continuous sustainable development of local communities.
All booksellers are anxiously waiting to reopen their stores, but they are not willing to compromise their health or the health of their customers and communities they enrich. This puts them at a disadvantage compared to giant online retailers, whose businesses are operating with minimal adjustments.
We are appealing to governments worldwide to remember the importance of books in our society, and the positive impact bookstores have on local communities, and provide support and financial aid to protect the bookselling industry.
It is critical we stand together in these uncertain times, as only by supporting each other we will come out stronger in the end.