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COVID-19

With stores closed, local bookstores lean on online sales

Alli Fam and Maria Hollenhorst Mar 31, 2020
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Keystone/Getty Images
COVID-19

With stores closed, local bookstores lean on online sales

Alli Fam and Maria Hollenhorst Mar 31, 2020
Keystone/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Bookstores across the country have closed or are closing their doors to help slow the spread of COVID-19. For independent bookstores with tight margins, closure poses an obvious threat to business. 

Bookshop.org is an online platform that lately finds itself providing vital assistance to many brick-and-mortar independent bookstores. The platform helps local bookstores sell books online, allowing stores to continue to reach patrons digitally. Andy Hunter, founder and CEO of Bookshop.org, told “Marketplace” that the company has “seen a steady rise in book sales” and that stores are selling “about 800% of what they were selling a few weeks ago.”

While the increase in demand has put unprecedented strain on his small team, Hunter said that in the present economic moment he feels “pretty lucky”.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What does the unemployment picture look like?

It depends on where you live. The national unemployment rate has fallen from nearly 15% in April down to 8.4% percent last month. That number, however, masks some big differences in how states are recovering from the huge job losses resulting from the pandemic. Nevada, Hawaii, California and New York have unemployment rates ranging from 11% to more than 13%. Unemployment rates in Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota and Vermont have now fallen below 5%.

Will it work to fine people who refuse to wear a mask?

Travelers in the New York City transit system are subject to $50 fines for not wearing masks. It’s one of many jurisdictions imposing financial penalties: It’s $220 in Singapore, $130 in the United Kingdom and a whopping $400 in Glendale, California. And losses loom larger than gains, behavioral scientists say. So that principle suggests that for policymakers trying to nudge people’s public behavior, it may be better to take away than to give.

How are restaurants recovering?

Nearly 100,000 restaurants are closed either permanently or for the long term — nearly 1 in 6, according to a new survey by the National Restaurant Association. Almost 4.5 million jobs still haven’t come back. Some restaurants have been able to get by on innovation, focusing on delivery, selling meal or cocktail kits, dining outside — though that option that will disappear in northern states as temperatures fall. But however you slice it, one analyst said, the United States will end the year with fewer restaurants than it began with. And it’s the larger chains that are more likely to survive.

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