My last post on this site was 4 March, and what a topsy turvy time we’ve all had in the days since then!
To think that just a couple of months ago most of us had never heard of coronavirus – now tens of thousands have lost their lives to Covid-19, and hundreds of thousands across the world have been stricken with the virus.
Surely ‘social distancing’ will have to be the phrase of the year if not the decade.
In this not so brave new world, individuals, small businesses and corporations have had their lives turned upside down.
For writers, it’s sad to see bookshops struggling to survive as shoppers’ movements become restricted, because we know how much we depend on them to keep the printed word in front of readers.
A couple of independent local bookshops in my hometown of Brisbane have responded in innovative ways. Riverbend Books, where I launched Hustling Hinkler, has closed its physical doors but has introduced free local delivery and a ‘Drive Thru’ service. I can forgive their mangling of ‘through’ when I hear that ‘cars are rolling through the car park all day picking up orders’.
Riverbend’s owner, Suzy Wilson, thanked customers for the many kind words that had come their way in the past week. ‘They’ve done much to keep our spirits up,’ she said.
Across town, Avid Reader bookshop, where I launched The Chalkies, has introduced a free local bicycle delivery service for the surrounding area, and promises same day delivery. Apparently it’s keeping Rachel (pictured) fit and happy. Win-win.
Avid Reader’s owner, Fiona Stager, is also encouraging customers to support other small stores in the area. ‘Every purchase at a local small business makes a big difference at the moment,’ she said.
The challenge is of course, to sustain this support. As Ed Nawotka said in the Los Angeles Times on 25 March, the concern is that these responses to local initiatives are just a temporary show of collective goodwill. Let’s hope they’re not.
As I was writing this, on my playlist Ben Lee was singing, very appropriately, ‘We’re all in this together’.
Let’s continue to support each other each other in this weird and uncertain time, and believe that our bookshops will still be going when we come out at the other end.
I certainly hope so, because I’ve no doubt that writers across the world are taking advantage of their enforced isolation to churn out hundreds of thousands of words, and many of them will be looking for a publishing outlet. Let’s hope the publishers survive too.
Until next time
What writers say:
To survive, you must tell stories. ~ Umberto Eco