France's bookstores fight for survival after lockdown

France's neighbourhood bookstores survived television and later the advent of online shopping and e-readers.

But then came an eight-week lockdown that's weighed heavily on profit margins and threatens the survival of some shops.

France's bookstores were allowed to reopen on Monday for the first time since March 17th.

Here at the ICI store in Paris's 2nd arrondissement, wearing a mask is compulsory.

And hand sanitizer flows freely, allowing customers to browse the literary delights as long as they use it.

The store's co-founder is Anne-Laure Vial.

"Now the difficulty is if we don't get enough business to cover our costs. And this is possible. So if the recovery is slow, in the long run, we must hold on for several months. It's important to say this - covering our costs is not a given."

The store's 12 employees are back on the payroll after being temporarily furloughed.

And the business has applied for two loans to help cover overheads.

Independent bookshops are a ubiquitous feature of Parisian neighbourhoods.

And the government has said it wants to avoid any bookstores going bankrupt.

So what are the city's bookworms stocking up on?

Well there is of course Albert Camus's La Peste -- about a plague that sweeps a city.

Or the cartoon strips in 'Pascal Brutal', about a gym addict from Brittany, come highly recommended for some much-needed comic relief.