|Weekly News Digest
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COVID-19 NEWS: 'How Bookstores Are Weathering the Pandemic'
Bryce Covert writes the following for Vox:
[I]ndependent bookstores across the country face an uncertain and undoubtedly difficult future: Government assistance has dried up, foot traffic is still low, and the virus is again threatening to bring everything to a screeching halt. Independent bookstore owners dug deep into their wells of creativity and passion and found ways to transform their businesses to cope with Covid-19. But even so, according to the American Booksellers Association (ABA), 35 member bookstores have closed during the pandemic, with roughly one store closing each week. Twenty percent of independent bookstores across the country are in danger of closing, the ABA says.
Between mid-April and June, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC) distributed $2.7 million to store owners and employees in need. ‘That equals the distribution that we had had in the previous eight years,’ said executive director Pamela French. The individual grants it gives out have increased 443 percent over last year. The level of need has subsided somewhat since the peak of the pandemic, but it’s remained consistently elevated, even with many stores now open. …
‘These independent bookstore owners are just tenacious,’ French said. Owners suddenly found themselves arranging curbside pickups, shipping thousands of online orders, and staging completely virtual events. …
The switch to online and curbside ordering saved bookstores from ruin. But it wasn’t easy, nor was it enjoyable. ‘It started to feel like a fulfillment warehouse for widgets,’ said Steven Salardino, manager of Skylight Books in Los Angeles, California. ‘It really took a toll on us psychologically.’ What kept him going, he said, was getting notes in online orders saying thank you.
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