The NYT explains to general readers the challenging situation for many independent booksellers as they balance hopes for the critical holiday season against the challenges of shopping in a pandemic — exacerbated by limits on printing and reprints, and slower and more expensive shipping, and higher expenses regardless.
The ABA surveyed members in July and among the approximately 400 respondents, a third said their sales were down 40 percent or more for the year. That 40 percent is in line with what Vroman’s in Los Angeles told customers when appealing for help to survive.
Twenty-six percent indicated sales were flat, or even up. But ABA ceo Allison Hill “said she expects that positive number to have eroded” when they repeat the survey in January. And “even at stores where sales have held on, profits are often down, Ms. Hill said.”
McNally Jackson Books owner Sarah McNally calls her sales “unimaginably bad.” The paper notes, “All six shops combined are now bringing in less than its SoHo location would in a typical month.” Owner of Third Place Books in the Seattle area Robert Sindelar says he is happy with sales that are down about 20 percent for the year.
While some booksellers are hoping that big sales for former president Barack Obama’s A PROMISED LAND will help boost their year-end, even that comes with risk and adjustments: “At 768 pages, it will weigh 2.5 pounds, said Matt Keliher at Subtext Books in St. Paul, Minn., so the store had to raise shipping fees or else it would lose money on every sale.