Best-selling mystery writer Keigo Higashino, who has long balked at releasing any work digitally “to protect bookstores,” is allowing seven novels to be sold in the format for the first time.

Higashino said he is making the exception to provide young people a source of entertainment while they are stuck in their homes amid the new coronavirus outbreak and to ensure his work is available even during the pandemic.

“Young people, you may want to go outside, but please wait a little longer,” Higashino said in a statement posted on the websites of the books’ publishers. “What about just reading, instead?”

Many bookstores have been shutting down since the central government announced a state of emergency on April 7 for Tokyo and six prefectures and requested the public to refrain from going out to stop the new coronavirus from spreading.

The government on April 16 expanded the state of emergency nationwide.

Seven publishers, including Kodansha Ltd., announced on April 17 they will start selling e-books of Higashino’s “Byakuyakou” (Journey under a midnight sun), “Yogisha X no Kenshin” (Devotion of suspect X), “Purachina Deta” (Platinum data) and four other popular works from April 24.

All sold more than a million copies each and were turned into films and TV dramas.

The publishers haven’t decided yet whether to continue to sell them as e-books after the outbreak is brought under control.