Independent Bookstores, closed and struggling due to Shelter in Place orders, see Massive Surge in Online Sales
Bookshop.org, where our sister site Cherrybooks.org is currently housed, seeing a huge surge in sales: starting on March 27th the world appears to have run out of streaming shows to binge-watch and decided to consider reading as a serious alternative.
Some stores are reporting a 300% jump, interestingly focused on this weekend in particular. Our sister company has seen similar numbers. More interestingly the titles that people are buying are like a window into all of our thoughts, hopes, fears and desires.
It’s an encouraging sign to see that people are literally taking this serious, daunting situation to heart and rethinking their own lives and even life itself. Naturally, entertaining escape from reality fiction and romantic fantasy fills a need and there is plenty of those kind of titles in the mix.
It’s Amazing to See how Millions are Searching for ways to Learn and Expand Knowledge, as We Hope to Transform Crisis into Opportunity
The depth and breath of the interest appears to be swelling into a second wave of sorts. Just as we are all going through various psychological stages in our reaction to the crisis we appear to have reached a stage where we are learning to accept that the length of self-isolation or physical separation in the name of “flattening the curve” will not be a week to ten days but could stretch into April and even May.
Lots of time on your hands? Need to save money due to unemployment? Want to do something that you can do alone in quarantine? All of the above apply to these titles and all DIY and How-to books !
This reality has triggered what appears to be a healthy and even heroic response in many. When viewing the titles people are choosing, and the depth of the thought that appears to have gone into those choices, it’s as if there is a massive worldwide army of people with a tsunami of desire to solve problems. From personal, individual problems and hopes, to world wide challenges in matters of health, economics, ecology, politics and so on.
Looking inward and toward the rear view mirror, people are researching history, particularly the 1st world war and its massive flu epidemic, along with the great depression as we ponder our financial and economic fates.
Even deeper inward philosophy, religion and all kinds of introspective longing to understand ourselves and societies and our history can be seen in the book titles. Stoicism books are selling by the dozen, as are, not surprisingly books on christianity and faith. Other religions and philosophies are represented also.
Humor is a big draw at a time we can all use a laugh and a smile. Everything can be seen and felt in the choices people are making as they search for ways to use this mandated time to reflect and regroup. How better to reach out for answers than the oldest technology for wisdom and the progression of ideas: books and solitary reading.
Below: a random smattering of titles from actual orders to illustrate this phenomenon along with our descriptions of the impulses that led to these selections:
This one is an obvious choice. Eyes tired from binge-watching for 37 hours straight? When you wake up tomorrow you can soothe them by forgoing the video version and going straight to the original. We find a surprising number of people become interested in the original book version of a title after the film or video version already hit the streets…
Want to do good? Thinking of role models sorely needed in this world of ours? Thoughts leaning toward what a person can do to help others during this time of crisis and suffering? Biographies of inspirational figures, such as Mother Teresa are very popular now, showing a trend towards introspection and the meaning of life and serving others.
How huge is poetry during self isolation? Very. This is one that has been surprising, from modern to romantic to historic classics, poetry books are flying off the shelves like there’s no tomorrow. Which we all hope is not the case. Even if it does turn out that way, what better last thought to savor than one from a great poet?
From Charles Bukowski to Rumi or Thich Nhat Hanh people are letting words flow from the pages and letting their souls devour the sweet nectar. Whatever style or epoch tickles your fancy it’s out there waiting. Take it and run with it. What have you got to lose?
Religion and Spirituality are huge, which goes without saying. The impulse to look within ourselves is growing stronger even as the world around us appears to be devolving into chaos. Perhaps it’s a feeling of wanting to reach back to our roots and traditions of our families or childhood.
Or it could just as well be a strong desire to explore what’s absolutely new and unknown to us. Either way the solitary time in this unexpected environment we find ourselves in is perfect for exploring things we may not have had an opportunity to investigate during “normal” times.
Or maybe it’s time to figure out how to solve all the world’s problems. Sure it’s great to start with epidemiology and search for a coronavirus vaccination. But what about the rest of our problems? Or how about just great ideas for better ways to live and organize society? Or political solutions and movements? With enough time on our hands to study and reflect there may not be any problem too big or too complex.
Somebody said we are all in quarantine and spending all our time eating and fighting with spouses and relatives. Why not take a break and read about how not to fight with each other. Many have apparently taken that advice to heart as some of our biggest sellers are books and how to get along with each other, and ourselves! Reading has a miraculous influence on us to give us the strength and courage to believe that we can fix anything. Even solve our own inner dilemmas and weaknesses.
Of course there is always the pleasure of exploration. Novels and guilty pleasure reads, cookbooks and food, Romance, Sex, Relationships, Children’s Entertainment, Movies and Music, the list goes on and on. The old saying “there’s an app for that was preceded many, many years earlier by a simple truism that has stood the test of time. There’s a book for that.
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