Bookstores are just one of the many businesses that have been profoundly impacted by the shutdowns happening throughout the country. Shelf Awareness and Publisher’s Weekly have both made it a point to offer regular reports and updates on the current status of bookstores and the publishing industry; while some of this news is good, some of it is surprising, and some of it is down-right depressing.
Without a doubt, 2020 was a difficult year, and these difficulties have extended to our neighborhood independent bookstores. These independent bookstores have had to close, shift their business models, and more to survive during the pandemic, but they are not dead yet. Here’s why and how you can help these stores survive.
I reached out to graduating project managers Grace Hansen, Cole Bowman, and Bailey Potter who oversaw the successful launch events for LAUREL EVERYWHERE, FAULTLAND, and FINDING THE VEIN, respectively. I asked each of them about advice for planning future virtual events. Within a few hours, I had struck gold. Synthesized below are their replies and some guidance to get started when it is time to plan a celebration of your new book.
COVID-19 continues to change lifestyles and restrict in-person contact. People may not be able to shop at their favorite bookstores (or any stores) without potentially waiting in a line outside the brick and mortar or needing to proactively set an appointment. A box of books and other goodies being delivered can bring the bookstore vibes to readers’ homes, and can keep us consuming the titles that flood our wishlists and the titles we had no idea we needed.
From posting funny quips to sharing ideas for family-friendly reading activities, these stores have been going above and beyond to reach their communities, all while fielding business in a challenging new way.
This project has taught me what the greatest powers of small presses are: focused attention on a few projects (instead of hundreds each year), strong author relationships, and intimate knowledge of a book’s story and content.