Sales of hardcover books in the U.K. have spiked since bookstores began reopening June 15, the Bookseller reported. With 6.5 million hardcovers sold since the week ending June 20, volume was up 23% year on year and value up 26.8%, at £77.3 million (about $96.9 million), according to Nielsen BookScan TCM data. As a proportion of the market, hardcover sales accounted for 23.5% of the TCM's volume, up from 20.8%.
"With much of the nation still working remotely (and restaurants gradually reopening), cookbooks sold strongly," the Bookseller wrote, adding that the food & drink category was up 20.5% year on year. Hardcover fiction was also up 20% in volume, while paperback fiction declined slightly by 0.05%.
When the Covid-19 crisis hit Canada four months ago, suspending "the joyful ritual of a good browse through a well-stocked independent bookstore," indies in British Columbia "were not willing to just go dark," the Vancouver Sun reported. "Store websites were whipped into tip-top shape and curbside and home deliveries were offered. Once closed completely, B.C. bookstores are open again--but things have changed a lot."
"Life in the bookstore is not the same. We see our bookstores as third places where people can gather informally outside of work or home, exchange ideas and relax," said Evelyn Gillespie of Laughing Oyster Book Shop, Courtenay. "That's not the environment we can have now. It is great that people can now come in and browse our shelves, but nobody wants to stay long. And with limited capacity we don't want them to linger, either. That is probably the greatest difference we are all experiencing now--we are missing the joyful engagement with our customers."
At Massy Books in Vancouver's Chinatown neighborhood, Patricia Massy said, "There was and still is racism around Covid and a lot of businesses in Chinatown. During February and into March, we saw a massive decrease in business." After the store established a free delivery service, business picked up. In June, Massy Books had more online sales than during all of 2019, and she added three new staff members. "People really wanted to show their support for independent bookstores and wanted to see them survive."
Jessica Walker of Munro's Books, Victoria, recalled: "After the first couple of terrible weeks, we were actually quite pleasantly surprised. We did a lot of online business. Our online orders, I don't even know what the math is, are like 10 times what they were before."
|Mosaic Books no-contact pick-up.
Noting that Mosaic Books, Kelowna, is a part of the landscape of the Okanagan city, Alicia Neill observed: "I feel like our community is really good about supporting us and I think we are just a good institution for the downtown. We just seem to get stronger and stronger, which is nice to see especially in the age of Amazon.... During all the Covid stuff, a lot of people were saying: 'You know, I'm not really going to shop at Amazon anymore.' They actually preferred shopping local." From March to end of July Mosaic's online orders jumped from about 800 in 2019 to around 6,000 this year.
The performance is consistent among other indies in the country. Mosaic co-owner Michael Neill, who also runs the indie bookstore business management, POS and inventory system Bookmanager, said that among the 285 stores the company works with in Canada, the increases were dramatic. In April 2019, for example, collective online sales were C$8,000 (about US$5,885), compared to C$104,000 (about US$76,510) in 2020.
Posted last week on Instagram by Hong Kong bookseller Bleak House Books in San Po Kong, Kowloon: "It's cram time. Tomorrow Bleak House Books reopens for walk-ins after being closed for a month because of the damn coronavirus. Things are still touch and go out there so we will have a 10 person limit. We ask for everyone's patience and understanding during these strange times. See you guys tomorrow!"
On reopening day: "Less than an hour into our reopening and we reached our 10 person limit! Thank you all for your support! We love our readers!" And later: "You know it's a good day at the bookshop when a puppy dog shows up! We opened our bookshop doors at 11 a.m. today after being closed for a month. From that time until closing we had a non-stop stream of customers. It is hard to put into words what this means to us. That a dinky little bookshop on the 27th floor in the middle of nowhere San Po Kong has become a place people wish to visit. It is humbling. Really. And also nerve wracking. Because it means we have our work cut out for us. But tomorrow is another day. And we will try again to do our best to be the bookshop we think the community needs and deserves. We love our community. We love Hong Kong." --Robert Gray