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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

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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