Bookstores Considered Essential Businesses in France

The Boston Globe recently reported on France’s book culture and how it has been affected by the lockdown. According to Olivia Snaije, who wrote the article, “many people refer to their neighborhood libraire, or bookseller, the way they might their butcher or their hairdresser. And that’s where 40 percent of French people still buy their books — their neighborhood shop, not the superstores, not the Internet.” In France, independent book stores appear to be as ubiquitous as Mcdonald’s are in the US, and their customers are much more loyal.

Much of this culture is due to the emphasis that the French government places on reading. There are laws that equalize the market and prevent stores from selling books at different prices. This creates a more even playing field for large corporations and independent stores. In fact, these laws “not only protect independent bookshops from larger chain outlets, [they] ensure cultural diversity, guaranteeing that a wide range of titles can be published, including books that have cultural value but won’t become bestsellers.”

When lockdown began last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, bookstores were forced to close, and the public became outraged. Some found a way around the lockdown to support their local bookstores; others sent checks in hopes that the owners would be able to bounce back after lockdown. Now, as France approaches another lockdown, bookstores will remain open as they are now considered essential services.


featured image via the Boston globe