Bookstore on the verge of closing asks for help, gets 25,000 orders in one weekend

NEW YORK — The owner of a New York bookstore on the verge of closing has renewed hope after thousands of people responded to her call to action.

In an Oct. 23 letter to customers, Nancy Wyden, the third-generation owner of Strand Book Store, wrote that the shop’s revenue had dropped nearly 70% compared to last year.

“We’ve survived just about everything for 93 years -- the Great Depression, two World Wars, big box bookstores, e-books and online behemoths,” she wrote. “Because of COVID-19, we cannot survive the huge decline in foot-traffic, a near complete loss of tourism and zero in-store events compared to 400 events pre-pandemic.”

Wyden said that she was coming to customers with humility, gratitude, determination and appreciation.

The response? 25,000 online orders and $170,550 generated in in-store purchases, in two days, The Washington Post reported.

According to The New York Times, the shop set a single-day record of 10,000 online orders, causing the website to crash. One woman purchased 197 books.

“How can I not love my book community for helping like this?” Wyden said in an interview with WaPo.

“I feel enveloped in a tidal wave of love,” she told CNN. “Of course I’m so elated, but I want this to be sustainable and I am still really worried. We need people to keep ordering from us."

New York Times reporters Sean Piccoli and Elizabeth Harris noted that although millions of people have been spending more time at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, causing book sales to increase, a large portion of that shopping is happening online, putting independent book stores in danger.

Among the retailers seeing increased profits from online book sales is Amazon. Wyden has been criticized recently for spending $115,000 on Amazon stocks, despite being a competitor in the book-selling space. Wyden told critics she plans to reinvest any profits gained from the shares back into her business.

The Strand was founded in 1927 by Wyder’s grandfather, Fred Bass. The flagship store houses more than 2 million books in the four-floor shop, CNN reported.

Read more about the book shop here.

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