Publishers Weekly Launches #BooksAreEssential Campaign

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Cover of Publishers Weekly's April 20 issue featuring cartoon woman holding a book over her face in the style of an N95 mask with the hashtag #BooksAreEssentialPublishers Weekly has launched a new social media campaign, #BooksAreEssential, to support the publishing industry, booksellers, authors, illustrators, and others affiliated with the industry who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Publishers Weekly created the hashtag in response to the shutdown of all but “essential” businesses, during which books were deemed “nonessential” in many places, leading to widespread pushback from publishers, booksellers, authors, and readers. 

The #BooksAreEssential campaign launched with the April 20, 2020, issue of Publishers Weekly. The cover, by the Finnish illustrator Pirita Tolvanen, shows a reader who peers out over a book held open in the manner of an N95 surgical mask. The book’s title, shown on the spine, is “a novel,” Coronavirus

“Whether you are working in a hospital, teaching your children at home, laid off or furloughed from a job, or simply trying to make sense of this pandemic, books are a lifeline,” said Jim Milliot, editorial director of Publishers Weekly. “We’re asking everyone to stand up and say, ‘Yes, books are essential to my life.’”

More than two dozen publishing executives participated in the kick-off of the campaign — each with a selfie taken with a book held up as a surgical mask. The publishers’ #BooksAreEssential photos are published in the magazine, which may be read at no charge.

The hashtag emphasizes the belief that books are essential to the health, well-being, entertainment, and education of society and culture, particularly in times of crisis. Publishers Weekly is encouraging readers to take selfies with books they’re reading and post the photos to social media platforms using hashtag #BooksAreEssential and tagging Publishers Weekly (Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook). Photos may also be submitted for consideration for Publishers Weekly‘s Picture of the Day.

The #BooksAreEssential campaign is the latest effort by Publishers Weekly to lead the industry during the pandemic. The magazine offers open access to gated content for the duration of the pandemic, maintains a COVID-19 chronicle of the impact of the virus on the book publishing industry, offers resources for unemployed and furloughed booksellers and others and keeps a running list of book publication date changes due to the crisis.