North Park Book Fair: Holiday Edition to help local bookstores turn the page after pandemic

Speaker 1: (00:00)

After a pandemic year of online vacation shopping, shoppers have a unique opportunity this weekend to touch and leaf through a real book. The North Park Book Fair Holiday Edition takes place this Saturday with hundreds of new and used books for sale, along with food vendors and an open mic. The show supports small businesses this holiday season. And join me with details about the book. Fair is one of the event coordinators, Jennifer Coburn, Jennifer. Welcome.

Speaker 2: (00:31)

Hi, thanks for having me now.

Speaker 1: (00:33)

North Park bookstores must be so looking forward to this event. How difficult has it been for these small businesses over the past year?

Speaker 2: (00:41)

Well, as you know, uh, small businesses across the country have been hit really hard by the pandemic because you know, when, when we’re told you really can’t get out, unless you go to the supermarket or at a doctor’s appointment, people are starting to rely more on online retailers, so shopping habits start to change. And it’s hitting hard on the small business community, especially bookstores.

Speaker 1: (01:07)

Now, even before independent bookstore closures were threatened by online giants like Amazon, were they getting creative to stay afloat.

Speaker 2: (01:16)

They were getting creative and the pandemic forced them to be even more creative about when, when we got the order to lock down one of our bookstores, the text books decided, okay if people can’t. not enter my bookstore, I am I’m going to take my books out to the sidewalk so people can leaf through conversations with other book lovers. And we were shocked. There was a line around the corner. People were really hungry for this kind of human connection and interaction. So that’s kind of what prompted us to organize our first book fair in North Park this summer.

Speaker 1: (01:56)

Can you tell us what people can expect from the North Park book? Fair holiday edition this

Speaker 2: (02:00)

Weekend? Of course, they can look forward to a good time with over a hundred stalls. We’re going to have 15 bookstores, 11 small presses, and we’re going to have dozens of local writers, uh, like there’s historical fiction, the favorite of Jill Hall, the pink poet Chiana, Kazi Ali. And if you’re not a writer, but want to be a writer, Inc will be there. This way, they can tell you about the courses they are offering to aspiring writers and also to children. And there will be plenty of children. Booksellers and Santa Claus will be there.

Speaker 1: (02:33)

Authors at the fair, will they sign books?

Speaker 2: (02:37)

Sure thing. They will sign all their books. So if you want to get yourself some nice, uh, more to warm by the fireside, with and all, your book stockings, loving friends, uh, they’re here to do it.

Speaker 1: (02:50)

Will there be any gifts for sale other than books?

Speaker 2: (02:53)

Yeah, we’re gonna have more one-of-a-kind handmade gifts. They will be candles. It will be chocolates, it will be cheese. It will be a wonderful street fair for book lovers. And if you’ve got people who really aren’t book lovers, they’re still going to have a good time because we’re going to have live music. We will have tons of things to do, eat and buy.

Speaker 1: (03:19)

Tell us about some of the security measures in place for this event.

Speaker 2: (03:23)

Well the main security protocol that we have is for the event to take place outside. We’re also going to have more handwashing stations and bathrooms, and there won’t be any food samples offered by the food vendors, which is disappointing, but that would also keep things safe. our guests.

Speaker 1: (03:41)

Are you concerned with all the talk about the Omicron variant, keeping the population low for this, uh, event?

Speaker 2: (03:48)

Yes, Variant O is of concern, which is why we are really doubling down on our safety precautions.

Speaker 1: (03:55)

We all know what the downsides of the pandemic are for independent bookstores, but is there a benefit, do people suspect the pandemic has caused people to read more?

Speaker 2: (04:06)

The pandemic absolutely made people read more, uh, the book riots recently polled their members and they found 58% were reading more during the pandemic, uh, the enlightened hub did a similar poll. They found 30% of their subscribers, uh, or read more. So people read more. They buy more books, they listen to audiobooks, and they download e-books. So book buying is on the rise, but the way people buy books has changed. They rely more on online books sellers. So this has led many booksellers to show a little more creativity. So, as I mentioned, the verbatims which, along with the North Park Lions Club and North Park Main Street, are the sponsors of this event. Uh, people get really creative. They bring their books outside. They organize events. Zoom events were one of the ways that booksellers really sold a lot of books because people love to connect with authors, ask questions about the writing process, ask questions about how they got there. their ideas, how they did their research and what was not able to happen online. So they did it on zoom. There is a bookseller in Brooklyn that would ask people to order books online and then they would deliver them. They delivered them to their door.

Speaker 1: (05:29)

As you say, I think buying books online has become a habit for a lot of people. It’s very useful. It comes fast and you don’t have to leave the house. But what do you get by participating? A fair is like this, or going in person to a bookstore that you can’t get online.

Speaker 2: (05:47)

You know, no algorithm will replace human connection. When you get the chance to talk to the authors, to talk to the booksellers, to say, Hey, I love this book. What did you think of this other author’s book? And you know, it’s recommending things to you. Like, if you like it, you’ll probably like it, but you can’t have it with another human being. And I think we all really want it now more than ever.

Speaker 1: (06:16)

And there is also something about flipping through a book and getting to know it before you pick up

Speaker 2: (06:21)

It is the house. And you know what, I don’t know if I really want to live in a world without a brick and mortar bookstore like you said you can walk away through the books. You can sit down and read a few pages and it’s, it’s just a wonderful home sanctuary of our daily life.

Speaker 1: (06:39)

Jennifer, do you think independent bookstores in San Diego are going to be able to bounce back from their pandemic decline?

Speaker 2: (06:46)

I think they already are. And I think it will only grow in the future.

Speaker 1: (06:50)

Okay. Next, the North Park Book Fair Holiday Edition will take place this Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at North Parkway and 30th Street. I spoke to Jennifer Coburn and one of the event coordinators and Jennifer. Thank you very much.

Speaker 2: (07:06)

Thanks Maureen. It was a pleasure.

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