New Covid-19 lockdown regulations started today in England, where "non-essential retail," including bookshops, must close for browsing until December 2, the Bookseller reported. English booksellers now join their colleagues in Ireland, where restrictions that went into force October 21 call for people to stay at home and for non-essential shops to close for six weeks, but will reviewed after four. In Wales, a briefer "firebreak" lockdown is in place until November 9.
|At Jaffe & Neale before the latest shutdown.
As booksellers prepared for a second novel coronavirus lockdown, they considered the prospects of having to rely on "click and collect" services, as well as online sales, to sustain their businesses. Patrick Neale, owner of Jaffe & Neale Bookshop & Cafe in Chipping Norton, told the Bookseller that while the shop will offer click and collect, he was concerned about the lack of clarity regarding safety under the new restrictions, and he would be selective about frequency: "It doesn't make economic sense, we're going to have to be more hardnosed about the local delivery, it will have to be very local delivery and maybe not every day."
Sanchita Basu De Sarkar, manager of the Children's Bookshop in Muswell Hill, London, said: "Between our website, which has been a labor of love these past few months, and the new bookshop.org, we're hoping that our customers have plenty of options through which to support us. It's been heartening seeing our locals come in and shop early, and many have expressed interest in our lockdown services."
Louise Ashmore, co-owner of Read, Holmfirth, said, "Our customers know what to do now and have continued to make use of e-mail and phone to order books so it won't be as hard to get the message out this time. We think click and collect is a feasible and safe option and we're carrying on delivering/posting as we have been throughout."
Richard Drake, owner of Drake the Bookshop, Stockton-on-Tees, observed: "The big thing that the publishers can do and authors and newspapers and bloggers and anyone who has an interest in books is, if they can't point people in the direction of a specific shop or website (always the best option) drop the A word link and promote uk.bookshop.org until they are blue in the face. Yes I know that for the publishers Amazon are a customer, but they have had more than their fair share of advertising over the years, now, it's our turn, because it's our hour of need."
The American Book Center, the indie English-language bookstore in the Netherlands, with stores in Amsterdam & the Hague, is upping its postal game: "Starting from this week we offer free shipping for orders over €20 [about $24] within the Netherlands. If you want to shop for fun, shop online!"
In India, Walden, "one of Hyderabad's most loved bookshops," was forced to close at the end of October, after 30 years in business, due to lost revenue from pandemic restrictions, the Hindu reported. The Somajiguda outlet closed in 2019 and the bookshop was operating from its Gachibowli and Banjara Hills branches.
"The competition from online retailers was hurting but the Covid-19 lockdown had a big impact on our business. How can we run a business without being physically present?" said Shobha Prasad, who, along with husband, Ram Prasad, started the shop in Somajiguda in 1990.
Named after Henry David Thoreau's classic work, the bookstore "became a landmark and a benchmark for how books were sold and bought in Hyderabad in the '90s," the Hindu noted, adding that the business "had a greeting cards section and music section beside the stationery one. The festive season between Deepavali and New Year could see the shop draped in fairy lights, Christmas trees and higher decibel levels in the toys section. But this year, there will be an eerie silence."
Speaking of the holidays and necessary distractions, Canadian bookseller Munro's Books, Victoria, B.C., posted on Instagram: "Every year in early November, a few Munroids come to work in our grubbiest clothes. Sneakers and yoga pants aren't exactly elf gear, but by the end of our shift, we'll be covered in dust, glitter, and tiny scratches from the branches of an immense artificial tree: battle scars any Christmas elves would be proud to sport. Over the course of one morning, the store will be transformed....
"Traditionally, we wait until after Remembrance Day to get in the Christmas spirit. This year, we thought we could use the distraction a bit sooner. And so, we imagine, could you." --Robert Gray