Waterstones "is preparing to put books into quarantine after they have been handled by browsing shoppers as part of plans to reopen its stores when allowed," the Guardian reported. The British bookstore chain will ask shoppers to set aside any book they touch on carts, which will be taken into storage for at least 72 hours before the books are returned to shelves in an effort to protect customers from the spread of Covid-19.
Although Waterstones had been advised that the virus cannot survive for long on cardboard or paper, CEO James Daunt (who is also CEO of Barnes & Noble) said the company will be taking extra precautions to give books time to "self heal."
Other social distancing protective measures being taken by Waterstones include plastic screens in front of POS stations, limits on the number of shoppers, a one-way traffic system in stores and the closure of cafes.
With online sales having risen more than 300% since the closure of all bookstores at the end of March, Daunt said classics, including lengthy "bucket list" titles, and pandemic-inspired literature had all been popular, though the bestseller in Waterstones has been Rutger Bregman's Humankind, "which argues that most people’s instincts are good," the Guardian noted.
"Reading was quite robust before lockdown and if anything this has been positive [for promoting reading]. But there has been an extraordinary subtle change in what people are reading," said Daunt, adding that the closure of stores had generally hit sales of new books as it has made browsing and picking up on staff recommendations more difficult.
The Australian Booksellers Association, which cancelled its 2020 National Conference, originally scheduled for June 21-22, is planning to hold some sessions online on Monday, July 6. They include the original international keynote speaker, Nic Bottomley, owner of Mr B's Emporium, Bath, England, and former president of the Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland. Thanks to the new format, he will be in a q&a with BA CEO Meryl Halls, who was the 2019 conference keynote speaker. In addition, David McCallister and Richard Flanagan will discuss their upcoming books. More information about guests and sessions will be made in the near future.
|Gulshan Books donated 1,000 books to quarantine centers.
"When a book carton was delivered to engage students and scholars in different quarantine centers of Kashmir during the initial phase of pandemic, it became a spur-of-the-moment community response towards the health crisis--creating a new order and routine in the lockdown-laden society. The man behind the move was the fifth generation proprietor of the heritage Gulshan Books of Kashmir, Sheikh Aijaz," the Kashmir Observer reported. Highlights from a q&a with the chairman and CEO:
As top bookseller in town, who interacts with readers, do you believe that pandemic lockdown is improving readership in Kashmir today?
Obviously, the readership is growing, but sadly, due to the lockdown, it isn't benefiting the book business. Due to the recurrent lockdowns in Kashmir, our trade is running in huge losses. There's a clear indifference towards the trade. Even in the recent stimulus package announced by New Delhi, there's nothing for book business. We may be forced to shift to other line, if we continue to face this situation...."
But then, people would still ask, what’s stopping the valley’s heritage bookshop to digitalize itself and cater to the evolving online market?
Let me tell you, it's a work in progress. Idea is to digitalize some rare and historic books by our unsung Kashmiri authors. People can buy Classics from Amazon, but they can't get some rare books written by our Kashmiri authors there. We're working on this thing for last one year. Once done, our books will be available for readers in the PDF form. We want to maintain a complete database on books. But, for everything in life, you need some certainty. Let's not forget that we live in the place where internet often becomes the situational casualty.
Coming back to Pandemic readings, how are you catering orders these days?
We may not be able to sell books during the current lockdown, but we are receiving overwhelming queries on phone. The callers are mainly enquiring about the general books, but there's definitely a surge in the demand of the local writers. Much of this has to do with the current indoor routine. Although these calls are nothing new for us, but in pandemic they've increased, which actually tells you that there's a growing reading appetite in the society these days.