A Gentleman Bookseller at the End of the World

by Giovanni, a Bookloft bookseller

COVID-19 is a scary thing. New information about it comes out every day and life as we know it will never be the same. But being a bookseller in an unprecedented time gives me a new perspective on the role books play in our society.

For two and a half months, we were closed to the public, not even allowed to come into the store to fulfill online orders. It was understandable, as we were still learning the effects of the virus and how it spreads.

But all that downtime was spent reading. I read at least one to two books per week. And when we reopened for online ordering, we were flooded with requests for new books. Having been opened for just over a month, we still get inundated with orders and requests for books.

Books offer an escape from reality. Whether it’s the next summer beach read, a suspenseful thriller by your favorite author, or diving headfirst into a different world entirely, be it fantastical or futuristic, we find comfort in stories. They allow us to forget our troubles, the troubles of the real world, and maybe find hope or a happy ending in a good novel. Books also educate us and allow us to view the real world from a different perspective. Some of the best sellers have been about social justice and highlight the very real issues facing Black communities in our country.

As we all try to educate ourselves or find escapes into other lives or other worlds, we also need to be constantly aware and respectful of the people around us. Masks are required, as is hand sanitation, and social-distancing (which I have been practicing since 1999). Being in a new space in a new world is exciting and frustrating. We have our own space independent of other businesses, but we are also getting used to new sections, new displays, discovering new problems, and working with customers who, for the most part, are as excited as we are to be in the new space.

As always, there are challenges, old or new, due to the reality we are all living in. But again, books are our best friends at times like these, offering comfort, excitement and entertainment from our very own homes. I am grateful to have a job when so many are facing unemployment and financial challenges, and even more grateful to work somewhere that allows me to access so many worlds, lives, and perspectives. Books are escapes, education, entertainment, and above all, purely essential in times like these.

Find out more about Giovanni and what he likes to read over at his Staff Picks page.