What a nice restart: queuing for Strand’s

(c) The image was taken from the Instagram account of Strand Book Store, NYC
26 Jun 2020

New York's Strand Bookstore has reopened after weeks of lockdown

Strand bookstore, one of the most visited places in New York City by tourists and locals, has reopened yesterday (June 22nd) after weeks of lockdown: the queue, photographed by one of the booksellers, went around the block. For bibliophiles, this photo is the symbol of good news: if the ebook and the attention deficit caused by social media did not succeed, neither a global lockdown killed paper books.

Bookstores also reopened a week ago in the UK, where the trade association reported 4 million books sold in six days, a 30% increase on the same week's sales compared to 2019, and general satisfaction. In France, a country of strong readers, the government has allocated €82 million to help bookshops and publishing houses; and the booksellers' magazine Livres Hebdo estimated an increase in book purchases of 230% in the first week of déconfinement (on the other hand during the emergency sales had fallen 60%).

Bookstores were considered "non-essential services" in almost all countries and therefore were closed during the lockdown. The paradox: Italy was among the first to allow them to reopen (and include them in "essential" services, before hairdressers). But with the losses inflicted by the lockdown, which reduced their turnover by 85%, many have not reopened.

We dream of queues like Strand’s in Italy too: how "inessential" is to read?

Source: Il Corriere della Sera, (c) Irene Soave, "What a great start: queuing up at Strand’s".

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