How to support Denver-area bookstores and libraries with eBooks and home delivery – The Denver Post

When Len Vlahos and Kristen Gilligan made the heartbreaking decision earlier this week to put most of their 160 full-time and part-time employees on unpaid temporary leave, they realized they weren’t alone.

“In our industry, the retailer doesn’t set the price, it’s the seller, so we’re already a low-margin business. As such, most independent bookstores don’t have the resources to overcome this,” said Vlahos, co-owner of Tattered Cover Bookstores. “For us, this is devastating, but we are closed for public health reasons and are doing our best to serve our customers remotely.”

From canceled author readings to loss of revenue and visitors amid a government-ordered shutdown, bookstores and libraries are struggling to stay in touch with their audiences during the coronavirus pandemic, which has closed most physical gathering places indefinitely.

But bookstores and, to a lesser extent, libraries are particularly strange ducklings during this wave of disruption, given not only their financial models, but also their focus on the quiet, patient pleasures of reading rather than the quick profit or relentless growth.

As Amazon has proven, a digital business can become a bookseller even without a store. But most businesses don’t have the resources and scale of this behemoth, which forces them to get creative.

Tattered Cover still has something to offer beyond the experience of browsing through its stacks, Vlahos said. The company is offering free shipping on orders of $10 or more — that’s pretty much everything in the store these days — as well as curbside pickup at its Littleton and East Colfax Avenue locations while encouraging donations to help keep it afloat through the deeply uncertain months ahead.

Denver’s BookBar, which takes a double hit since it’s also a wine bar, and the Boulder Book Store are following similar paths, offering aisle-side pickup, online ordering and free shipping in addition to providing limited phone hours for orders and staff recommendations.

The flip side, of course, is that the book was one of the first mediums to be hit hard by digitization in the 2000s. In 2020, a wealth of reading material is available online, and libraries are counting on this to stay relevant over the coming months.

“As we all adjust to ‘the new normal,’ our staff are working diligently to create innovative ways to deliver our beloved services virtually to the community,” said Michelle Jeske, City Librarian of the Public Library System. from Denver. “Libraries are one of the few remaining public spaces that serve as community hubs where everyone can gather to connect and explore. The library closure is impacting both our community and our staff.

This staff – 740 full-time, part-time and on-call staff serving 26 locations as well as mobile services like bookmobiles – is now designed to help homebound people connect to DPL’s considerable stock of written, audio and visual materials .

After register online for a library cardDenver residents can download ebooks and audio ebooks, stream movies through Kanopy’s awesome service (also free), stream or download local music on Volumeget picture books from Bookflix and browse new magazines with RBdigital.

In the coming weeks, the Denver Public Library also hopes to use its website and social media channels to promote virtual storytimes and virtual programs for children and adults, in addition to services already available like live chats. with staff.

Those should help offset the loss of in-person programming, which draws about 28,000 people to Denver Public Library branches each year, Jekse said, among about 4 million annual visitors — an average of 10,000 per year. day – system-wide.

Indeed, Jeske was already tracking an average of 17,000 daily visitors to DPL’s online portals, and that number is only expected to increase across all public library systems.

Elsewhere, Douglas County Libraries are waiving late fines and extending due dates and keeping physical books while offering free audio-guided workouts, craft classes and e-learning, said Amber DeBerry, Director of Community Engagement.

The 168 full-time and part-time employees of Anythink Libraries, which serve Adams County and have welcomed more than one million visitors in its seven branches in 2019, are also strengthening their offers to respond to the new reality.

“We are the place where people physically go when they don’t have a place andlse to go, said Stacie Ledden, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Anythink. “Our The challenge now is to help people understand that it doesn’t have to be a physical space that we are all connected to.

Facebook live events and staff cooking demos (scheduled to launch next week) keep employees busy while all the usual library offerings (ebooks, digital concert archives, magazines, video content) are available now – and more to come.

“We can also use our resources to connect people in other ways,” Ledden said. “I’m part of a task force with Tri-County Health and Adams County looking at how to support seniors during this time, and I’ve been on the phone with people where jobs and volunteers are currently needed. People who follow us on social media or sign up for our emails will get this information. We can connect them.

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