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The Wall Street Journal this morning has an interesting story about a shift in consumer behavior created by the pandemic - binge reading, which while not quite at the scale of binge watching TV series on Netflix, has become a real trend.

"In August 2020, year-over-year sales of print books in the U.S. were up 13%, according to NPD BookScan, which tracks book sales across the US," the Journal writes.  "Publishers also report a notable increase in purchases of e-books, as well as all books about politics or related to civil rights, racism and diversity."

For MNB purposes, of course, the lesson is in how retailers responded:  "Independent booksellers, as well as publishers and authors, deserve considerable credit for fueling the page-turning trend. When statewide lockdowns shut the doors on many bricks-and-mortar bookshops, and publishers could no longer promote new releases via in-person readings, the book business rewrote the rules of engagement."

Some offered free shipping and delivery, as well as contactless pickup services.  Some did readings and book clubs via Zoom.

Here's one cool idea:  "In Evanston, Ill, Page 1 Books established a subscription service, where customers fill out an online profile, noting their literary tastes, and then receive a package each month, a mix of hardcovers and paperbacks."

KC's View:

I love this, and not just because I am one of those people who done more reading lately as watching TV has lost some of its appeal, at least for the moment.

This is a perfect time to try new things, to look for new ways to engage shoppers, and to appeal to their interest and aspirations.  Not just bookstores - it is a perfect thing for food retailers to do, too.  (In fact, a smart food retailer might be able to team up with a smart bookseller to come up with food-themed books that can generate sales for both.)