You know that Auntie Katie has a bookshop called Books with Pictures. She sells comic books, graphic novels, illustrated histories and biographies, and all sorts of wonderful stories. Her store is at 1401 SE Division Street here in Portland and has been doing very well.
But how can you sell books when people can’t come into your store because of the corona virus shutdown? It isn’t easy, surely, but Katie is finding all sorts of ways.
She has set up a Personal Shopping page on her website (BookswithPictures.com) so people can tell her who they are shopping for, what topics they like, and how much they want to spend. Katie knows her books so well, she can match any reader with something they will like.
She has set up subscriptions so that people can get their favorite newly-released comics every month, or Katie herself will choose books like the ones customers have enjoyed in the past.
She is doing curbside pick-up of these books, so that while you are out getting groceries, you can let her know you are on the way and she’ll have the books ready for you with proper social distancing protocols.
Katie is even doing deliveries! She is driving all over town in the evenings, dropping off books on people’s doorsteps like a literary Santa Claus.
I have always been proud of your Auntie Katie. She makes brave choices and works hard to make them work. She values her community and they, in turn, value her. If anyone can make this work, she can.
You know how much I love books. The hardest things we gave away when we were moving were all those old friends between covers. But now I can see all my old friends and even make new ones: There are two new bookshops in the neighborhood!
I’ve mentioned Backstory Books and Yarn, on Hawthorne. This is a bookshop which has recently changed hands and re-opened. The former owner is in her 80s and has retired, selling the shop to Amanda, the new owner. The former owner still lives in the house in back of the shop, though. It must be rewarding to see the business she built with her late husband continue to grow and thrive.
I hope she can make it happen, since she is just a few blocks away from Powell’s Books on Hawthorne, which is a branch of the bigger Powell’s store downtown and very strong competition.
Closer to our house is Belmont Books, on Belmont Street, which is so new it doesn’t even have a sign yet. We visited the other day and met Joe, the proprietor, and Mitch, his friend and fellow book-scout. Belmont Books is smaller than Backstory, but the stock is very well-chosen. We chatted with Joe about his process of collecting books, and he mentioned the Belmont library “Friends of the Library” book sale, which sounds like something I will need to look for.
Both these bookshops are independent, which means they aren’t part of any bigger company. They are run BY people who love books, FOR people who love books. You know, people like me!