When the state began limiting groups to 25 or fewer people last week, area booksellers responded quickly to a suddenly changed business model, making moves that included delivering books to customers’ curbside or at home.
Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe in downtown Bend essentially closed at the end of the business day March 16, said owner Tom Beans, who referred to downtown Bend as “a ghost town” late last week.
But customers can still get books from Dudley’s. One way Beans had responded to the need for safety amid the coronavirus pandemic was by allowing small groups of up to four customers to come in and shop. That stopped as of Monday, however.
As of Tuesday, curbside pickup or delivery were the only ways to get books directly from Dudley’s. “We’re asking folks to contact us via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (541-749-2010) to arrange pickup/delivery,” Beans said in a follow-up email.
There is another way to support Dudley’s: bookshop.org. Dudley’s is a member of the recently launched online book retailer, positioned as an alternative to Amazon with a mission to financially support independent bookstores by giving a percentage of a sale to a customer-designated bookstore.
“We have our own portal, like there’s a Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe page people go through,” Beans explained. “All those books are shipped from Ingram (Content Group), which is a national book distributor. … People can order stuff on there well beyond what we have in the shop.”
Though the ordered books aren’t necessarily from Dudley’s inventory, when customers use bookshop.org via the Dudley’s portal, 30 percent of the sale goes to the shop. Additionally, another 10 percent of each purchase gets put into a pool that is shared with all participating indie bookstores around the country.
Between March 16 and Tuesday, Beans said, Dudley’s benefited from the sale of 111 books through Bookshop.
“That has blown up,” Beans said. “Thank God, that’s out there. It’s incredible.”
Paulina Springs Books in Sisters is also a bookshop.org member, said owner Lane Jacobson, who’s also seen an uptick in sales over the last several days.
“We expect that is something that we’re going to have to lean on heavily if there’s, like, a forced closure,” he said. “Because that allows people to order online, support whatever bookstore they choose that’s affiliated with Bookshop, and then get books delivered straight to their door.”
Like Dudley’s, Paulina Springs Books is also making deliveries to customers and providing curbside service for those who call ahead.
Deon Stonehouse, owner of Sunriver Books and Music, said curbside has long been a service provided at her shop, which she closed on Saturday.
Because bookstores are included among non-essential services have been shut down in the Village at Sunriver, the shop remains closed — even to curbside delivery. Meanwhile, Village restaurants remain open to takeout, she said.
“I do not think that if I put a book in a bag and walk it out and hand it to somebody in their car that that is more dangerous than a restaurant cooking food, placing the food in a container and delivering that food to the person in their lobby,” she said. “I just don’t see that as more dangerous. And you can quote me on that.”
Spring break is a critical week for Sunriver Books, typically its busiest time between the Christmas and summer tourist seasons in Sunriver.
“If people email me, I will do my best to get books to them,” said Stonehouse, whom you can reach at email@example.com.
Agia Sophia Coffeehouse and Bookstore opened in the late fall in the longtime home of The Open Book on Greenwood Avenue in Bend. March 11 marked the shop’s best day yet financially, but the store is now closed, said Father Damian Kuolt, founder of Agia Sophia.
“I’m probably going to be here working on lots of little projects, but not technically open,” Kuolt said last week, adding with a laugh, “I have a month’s worth of work that if I didn’t have to be available to customers … would get done.”