Local bookstore owners have found a new way of putting pages in the hands of people looking to catch up on their reading during the COVID-19 pandemic.
David Marklinger, who owns Legends Used Books in Dufferin, is offering readers who are self-isolating his Words on Wheels delivery service.
“Basically, it was a good way to stay connected with people. I know a lot of people are isolating and they can’t really leave the house to get books, so it’s good way to bring it to them,” Marklinger said.
Readers simply email Legends with their name, address and their desired genre and Marklinger will deliver the books in batches of four or eight.
“Mystery, science fiction, non-fiction, romance, whatever, or if you want say surprise me, you can get a mixture of stuff,” Marklinger said.
Andrena's Book Company in Sahali has been offering delivery and pickup service for two weeks.
Customers can call or email the used bookstore with their request and, if it’s in stock, it will be delivered, co-owner Andrena Blair told KTW.
“We don’t want to let our customers down. You need something to do, something to read. We have puzzles and movies. People need entertainment for sure. This is hard on people, especially older people,” Blair said, noting the store has even mailed an order to a customer.
In offering the service, Marklinger hopes people will keep their options open and broaden their horizons, but he noted he can check his stock for specific requests.
“Broaden things, discover new authors,” he said. “Something you may not have thought to pick up before. You might enjoy it, you might not.”
Payments at both stores can be made via e-transfer to avoid contact altogether due to the pandemic.
Both store owners have received positive feedback for offering the service and have been making deliveries using their own vehicles.
Blair said general fiction has been her bestseller, along with a number of authors, including George Orwell and Hunter S. Thompson.
“Some people will phone and say, ‘These are the kinds of books I like. What are your suggestions?’” she said, noting puzzle orders have also been popular.
Marklinger said orders have varied and no particular genre or author has stood out.
Though social-distancing measures enacted by the province to combat the spread of COVID-19 have shuttered many stores, the brick and mortar locations of Legends and Andrena remain open.
Legends is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. six days a week.
“I figure I’ll stay open until they tell me to not to,” Marklinger said.
Blair said the pandemic has been hard on business. Two of the regular complement of four staffers are working and the operating hours have been reduced to 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., five days a week.
Business has slowed down a bit at Legends, but earlier in March, when the pandemic became apparent, Marklinger said sales were well above average.
“For the first little bit there, I guess people were trying to stock up on books before they isolated. I was doing three times my regular business on some days,” Marklinger said.
To adhere to social distancing, Andrena allows a maximum of five people into the store at one time.
“And we’ve got lots of disinfectant of course,” Blair said, adding she is very conscious of the rules, as are customers.
The pandemic has led to a more rigorous cleaning regiment at Legends, but maintaining social distancing in the store has not been an issue.
“The most people I’ve ever seen in the store at one time is six — and that includes me,” Marklinger said.
Those looking to place an order for books from Legends can call 250-250-377-8793 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Those wishing to place an order for books from Andrena can call 250-851-2665 or email at email@example.com.