Bookstores Persevere Throughout the Pandemic

Many facets of life have altered since the Coronavirus pandemic took off in March, and the business of books is no exception. Bookstores around the globe have had to adjust their strategies in order to stay afloat during such uncertain times, and while it’s been a sincere trial for everyone, some bookstores are rising from the ashes and growing into even stronger entities because of it. And this success is in large part due to loyal customers and generous support.

Several stores, that had primarily relied on in-person sales, made the switch to online and curbside orders. But what happened to the hundreds off hot-off-the-press books in stores? “All of a sudden, they just became décor,” Kris Kleindienst from Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Missouri said. And though promoting online sales requires much more effort than reliable foot traffic swinging by on their way through town, people are still buying books and supporting their favorite small literary shops.



Many factors boosted sales just when stores needed them. Customers flooded online ordering systems, many in the hope of helping their local stores, others simply desperate for something to read during lockdown. Amazon started prioritizing essential goods over things like books, giving an edge to independent stores.


Another significant example of this is seen in the financial turn out for The Strand after its owner, Nancy Bass Wyden, implored for help in fear of the historical bookstore closing down completely. Their sales had gone down seventy percent in the last year, and soon after Wyden’s letter they received 10,000 online orders and 25,000 dollars in donations. Now that’s what I call “book lovers.”

Similarly, the same outpouring of love and financial support was recently seen for the one and only, Harvard Book Store:

And to top it all off, when the Black Lives Matter protests began in late March, in response to the police killing of George Floyd, an overwhelming surge of readers flooded black-owned and independent bookstores with book sales. This awakening of book store love resulted from not only the desire to show support for small businesses, but especially to assist black-owned bookstores when buying books about racism, acceptance, and intellectual edification.

As long as books hold words, stories and truths, and as long as people continue to crave open minds and support their communities, bookstores are continually (thankfully) going to receive this love.

Let’s keep the love flowing! Support your favorite independent bookstores here, and black-owned bookstores here.


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