Reading During a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everything from schools, restaurants, salons, supermarkets, libraries, and so many more businesses. During a time when many people are stuck at home with a rapidly diminishing list of things to do, reading is a popular option. Unfortunately, that isn’t quite as easy to do as one would think.

It isn’t safe anymore for libraries to allow visitors to browse through books willy-nilly. Now, they have to reserve books online, wait for them to become available, and pick them up while wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. When books are returned, they must be quarantined for a short time. The system does work, but it is much slower, and not everyone is capable of or comfortable going in person to pick up their books. Plus, not all libraries have the resources to provide this service.

Meanwhile, new books have had to cancel or postpone their releases and tours or turn them into completely virtual events. While buying books online is an appealing option in the face of closed bookstores, there isn’t always the ability to do so on both the buyer and seller’s side of the equation due to expenses.

And yet, book (hardcopy, e-book, and audiobook) sales have undeniably increased since the shelter-in-place began. Fiction and nonfiction books are popular to pass the time with, but many people are also turning to books about cooking, gardening, the environment, and sustainability to help themselves become more self-sufficient (and, of course, to occupy time).

The publishing industry has clearly changed in the past few months. I suspect that this situation gives authors the opportunity to write down the stories they have been dying to tell but haven’t had the time to write. It has already worked with George R.R. Martin, who is reportedly making steady progress on the sixth book after nearly ten years since the release of the fifth in his series A Song of Ice and Fire, which is the basis for the show Game of Thrones. We can only hope that book sales continue to rise and stay elevated once the pandemic is over so that we can all enjoy the books we so crave.