Books

Indy bookshop takes orders over Twitter to overcome flooding and coronavirus

Book-ish has had a touch start to the year but is looking to beat the slow business blues by encouraging people to order books over social media

An independent bookshop in Crickhowell, South Wales, hit by flooding and the impact of the coronavirus has turning their Twitter account into an informal delivery service.

The popular bookshop, Book-ish, suffered a quiet start to the year after devastating floods hit the local area and there are concerns for independent businesses as coronavirus takes hold of the UK and forces people to shelter at home.

Owner Emma Corfield-Waters took to social media this week and said: “OK, so who needs a book posting out to them? You tell us the title you need either here on on a DM, we tell you the price, you PayPal us & send your addy and a book will wing its way to you with a little extra goodie to say thank you for your support!”

Hundreds responded to the post and the owner found herself taking orders for book-lovers as far away as Germany.

“Business has been really quiet, but we’re being driven by lots of things,” she told The Big Issue. “We were affected by the worst floods in 40 years; doing this means we can reach lots of people with book-y positivity; it seems like an ideal time to deliver books if people aren’t wanting to go anywhere.

“At the moment people are buying to support us but I think over the next couple of weeks that could increase in terms of people wanting to connect and feel a part of something positive even if they’re avoiding leaving the house.”

Corfield-Waters said the bookshop had just suffered the cancellation of a major event and is feeling the knock-on effects of publishing schedules being disrupted as a result of the global chaos triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The effects go further – the shop’s stationary suppliers have encountered problems as a result of using an Italian company as their main stockist, and there has been a delay on the receiver of children’s picture books – because they tend to be printed in China or Italy.

“It has been quite good fun though,” the owner said. “People have been bunging book orders our way and we’ve been running round the shop trying to find them. It has been positive for us because we feel like we’re doing our jobs even though the shop is quiet.

“And it really does feel like community-building, which a lot of people are going to feel they need in a few weeks’ time.”

Despite the success of the project, the business implications of people being discouraged away from the high street are serious.

“If we don’t get anyone through the door then the impact is big because it doesn’t stop me having bills to pay.

“I’m self employed and have no fall back. Especially after a rubbish start to the year which means there are no reserves. I’m trying to stay positive, but with one major event pulled and more expected, a lot of the extra cash that we need hinges on that.

“It’s going to be tricky but we’ll get through it.”

Corfield-Waters told The Big Issue she had received a message from a customer thanking her for the project as it “really cheered [him] up among an atmosphere of fear and confusion”.

The impact of COVID-19 on the high street risks affecting Big Issue vendors too, who depend on selling the magazine to earn a living.

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