Local bookstores seem to have adapted well to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and are rebounding with enthusiasm.
Deb Mersereau, co-owner with Maureen Dooley-Sroufe of Cannon Beach Books, shared, “The year after having to shut down for two-and-a-half months was hard … We feel lucky, after four attempts, that we received a [Paycheck Protection Program] loan. It really made the difference in our being able to stay in business.” She also noted, “… now that more people are vaccinated, they are feeling more comfortable to travel. Cannon Beach has had the most tourists and out-of-state visitors ever this spring and early summer, so we’ve been busy.”
Karen Emmerling of Seaside’s Beach Books said that May, June and July were the store’s strongest months. Emmerling adapted to more online orders during the pandemic.
Deborah Reed, owner of Cloud & Leaf Bookstore in Manzanita, said she’s been busy throughout the pandemic.
“Between the locals who continue to support Cloud & Leaf Bookstore, and the people who own second homes coming out here to ride out the pandemic, as well as visitors … the store has remained busy this entire time.”
At Lucy’s Books in Astoria, owner Lisa Reid said her store continued to find success through, “our loyal customers showing up and finding things they like.”
“We’re now able to welcome more guests into Lucy’s at a time,” Reid said.
In Ilwaco, Time Enough Books’ owner Karla Nelson echoed that sentiment.
“We have rebounded beautifully,” Nelson said. “So many visitors are coming to the area and folks that have their second homes here are showing up a lot more often.”
While all of these booksellers are succeeding, they all are continuing to have issues with shortages and delivery, which began during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Stock shortages are getting better but shipping delays are a headache for most of the shipping companies,” Nelson said. “I don’t know why, but this is more a problem now than it’s ever been.”
Emmerling said Beach Books has been having a real problem with UPS.
“Most of our books come from the Ingram warehouse in Roseburg ... We’ve had a lot of problems with deliveries not coming … Even a one-day delay can be a problem in a tourist destination where people come and go.” She said it definitely changed the way the store makes orders.
Reed said Cloud & Leaf also has issues with supply.
“Shipments continue to be delayed and backordered,” Reed said. “It used to be a very reliable system, as my books come mostly from the Roseburg warehouse and arrive the next day after I put in an order. But I can no longer tell customers that their orders will arrive so quickly. For the most part, the customers have been terrific about it all.”
As for Cannon Beach books, Mersereau said: “After so many bookstores closed down because of the pandemic the major book distributors cut back on the books they carry so there are now quite a number of books we can no longer stock.”
At Lucy’s Books, Reid said there continues to be some supply issues, “which have helped us to be even more creative in finding new things our customers love.”
Fortunately, these bookstores have not had any issues with hiring, unlike many other types of business in the area, and several of them have longtime employees.
Emmerling said customers trended toward certain genres during the pandemic.
“Last year we were selling lots of anti-racism, political books,” Emmerling said. “This year we are selling lots of lighter, escapism-type books.”
Customers at Cloud & Leaf also tended to choose lighter reads that still have substance, according to Reed.
Time Enough Books found a similar trend, according to Nelson.
“I am seeing a swing to more fantasy-based and lighter comedic tomes,” Nelson said. “Nature books are big now too in nonfiction.”
At Cannon Beach Books, Mersereau said at first people were commenting that they couldn’t face reading hard or sad books because life was overwhelming.
“They were looking for feel good books,” Mersereau said. “It seems like now that restrictions have been lifted people are feeling lighter and are back to their regular reading habits.”
“For the last 17 months, it’s been fiction for the win! Because when you’ve had enough reality, fiction is a great escape,” Reid at Lucy’s said.
As well as faring well through the pandemic, adjusting to delays and shortages while continuing to supply their readers with enjoyable books, puzzles and cards, these booksellers all share a great appreciation for their loyal customers.
“I am just so appreciative of all our loyal customers,” Emmerling said. “We’ve tried to keep our online presence and packaging as warm and welcoming as it is coming into the store. We try to personalize all we do. We are looking forward to having more in-person events in the store.”
Mersereau said Cannon Beach Books’ loyal customers made a difference too.
“They bought gift certificates and saved them to use after we were back open to give us some cash flow and had us send books to them or friends,” Mersereau said.
And Reid at Lucy’s said she has “gratitude and heartfelt thanks to our community who continued to shop with us even when it wasn’t as easy to do.”
At Time Enough Books, Nelson concurred, “… my local customers are the ones that really saw us through.”