How Indie Bookstores Are Keeping People Reading During The Pandemic

Now’s the perfect time to jump into a good book.

By Alexandra HartMarch 20, 2020 2:24 pm, , ,

Note: Since this story aired, Book People has suspended pickup of book orders. The store continues to accept online orders, which will be shipped to customers.

A lot of Texans are finding themselves with extra time on their hands, between social distancing and Gov. Greg Abbott’s temporary order that closes schools, gyms and bars. There’s more options than ever to stay entertained while stuck at home, but Netflix and video games can lose their appeal after awhile. That’s why independent bookstores are promoting books as an antidote to electronic entertainment as everyone weathers the pandemic.

Charley Rejsek is general manager of Austin independent bookstore Book People. She says that bookstores like hers have adjusted their business models in order to keep people reading while maintaining social-distancing protocols.

“We are trying all-new business models to get people what they need at this time, so they can stay busy and educate themselves at the same time,” Rejsek says.

She also offers some of her store’s top picks for adults, kids and families looking to read together.

For adults, Rejsek suggests “The Jetsetters,” by Austinite Amanda Eyre Ward. It’s a novel about a 70-year-old trying to reconnect with her estranged family.

“They all end up on a cruise ship, all together,” Rejsek says.

Rejsek also suggests the trilogy, “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” by Grace Lin, for families looking for something to read together.

“It’s a fantasy adventure that’s inspired by Chinese folklore,” Rejsek says.

Parents can also find project-based books for kids of all ages, focusing on science or cooking.

Rejsek says there’s some great graphic novels for readers who enjoy that genre. She suggests “On a Sunbeam,” by Austin author Tillie Walden.

“It kind of reimagines utopia, so it’s a great time to put your phone down and look for some beautiful pictures,” she says.

Book People has staff working in its store, answering customer phone calls and delivering purchases to people in their vehicles waiting in the parking lot.

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.


Written by Alexandra Hart and Shelly Brisbin.