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.
We have survived so much in the past 93 years, and we are ready to fight against all odds to keep The Strand alive, but we cannot do it without book lovers like you.— Strand Book Store (@strandbookstore) October 23, 2020
"I’m going to pull out all the stops to keep sharing our mutual love of the printed word. But for the first time in The Strand’s 93 year history, we need to mobilize the community to buy from us so we can keep our doors open until there is a vaccine." - Nancy Bass Wyden, owner— Strand Book Store (@strandbookstore) October 23, 2020
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.
New York! Thank you so much. My heart is so full. I cannot express my gratitude enough for your support. #savethestrand @strandbookstore pic.twitter.com/M0SyU9pm24— Nancy Bass Wyden (@nancybasswyden) October 24, 2020
“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 line to get into @strandbookstore stretches a crosstown block, so no idea if it’ll work out, but there’s the ol’ college try... pic.twitter.com/R2YxydFYuk— Tony Fratto (@TonyFratto) October 24, 2020
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.
Cox Media Group