Last Friday I talked a bit about BookPeople’s decision to close our doors to the public and embrace the switch to curbside delivery. I ended my post by noting that we were in the process of transitioning once again. With community spread of Covid-19 announced in Austin last week, we decided it was no longer safe to bring staff into the store either and took our business fully online. That sounds so clean and easy, but of course, what that means in real life is that as we worked to get our Bookshop affiliate site up for Saturday afternoon, our incredible customers were still sending in hundreds of orders (about which we can only say THANK YOU!).
As our marketing team worked to get our Bookshop page live, a tiny team of buyers and managers (small enough to fully socially distance) headed to the store to pick, pack, and ship out all the wonderful items that were being ordered in the meantime. Fully anticipating a shelter in place order coming down the pike, we scrambled to get all orders pulled from the shelves, packed, and shipped along with pre-paid books for upcoming events, this week’s new releases, and this month’s subscription boxes. We have never fulfilled anywhere near this much mail order business in so short a time. But somehow, a few hours before Austin shut down Tuesday night, we finished everything on the must-send list, got the water shut off, took out the trash, cleaned out the employee fridge, and gave (most) of the plants one last drink before locking up.
And the thing is that we’re all tired. We’re tired from the work, from the worry, from the sheer disruption of it all. Today we’ve been working from home to pore over all our pending orders, our customer service emails, and all our tracking grids to catch what we missed and send it out via Ingram Direct to Home. I honestly don’t know what the indie book world would do without Bookshop and Ingram DTH providing this buffer of logistical support, inventory access, and fulfillment capacity. And it’s not just us. Indies everywhere are scrambling to figure out what all this means and what our next steps are and how we can keep business going as we serve our community—providing readers and families with resources and recommendations and access to great content as they adjust to this new normal too.
I don’t know what tomorrow will look like, let alone next week. But as we tackle each new challenge, each new pivot, each new day, this anxious, challenged, hopeful, determined bookseller hopes we might just find our way through. And until then, we’ll keep taking all the help we can get!
(My tried-and-true homeschooling recommendation of the week, by the way, is the Lawrence King Story Box story building cards. Keep fighting the good fight, fellow parents. We’re all in for a rough ride!)