December 5th, 2020

Penguin Random House calls on Ontario premier to designate bookstores as essential


By The Canadian Press on November 20, 2020.

A sign showing where Indigo plans to open a new store is shown at the Mall at Short Hills in Short Hills, N.J., on July 22, 2018. Penguin Random House Canada is calling on the Ontario government to designate bookstores as an essential service. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Craig Wong

TORONTO – Penguin Random House Canada is calling on the Ontario government to designate bookstores as an essential service.

The publisher’s chief executive Kristin Cochrane says in a letter sent to Ontario Premier Doug Ford that bookstores should be made essential because they provide critical information, entertainment and educational resources that are important for mental health and communities.

She says the low margins bookstores make and the high postal and distribution costs mean online sales are not a viable option for most during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cochrane says brick-and-mortar stores are needed because most online businesses do not have the supply chain capacity to service the spike in demand for books seen during the first wave of the pandemic.

Cochrane’s call to designate bookstores essential comes as COVID-19 cases have been hovering well above the 1,000 mark in Ontario for weeks and the province has been teasing further restrictions are to come.

The premier’s office wouldn’t comment on the matter, but said it will have more to share at a news conference scheduled for Friday afternoon.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2020.

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