Reading is enjoying a renaissance amid the lockdown in the UK.
While most of the entertainment sector has suffered as music festivals, concerts, theatre shows and film productions hang in the balance, books enjoyed a revival.
Waterstones has reported a 400% increase in online book sales week-on-week in lockdown, despite having closed its 280 branches.
But, the book chain’s chief executive James Daunt explained that a complicated path to reopening bookshops lies ahead.
“People will want to browse and pick up books… We’re just going to ask customers to put any books they don’t use on a trolley and we’ll wheel them away and quarantine them for 72 hours,” he said.
But quarantining books is not an option for the 890 independent books shops in the UK and Ireland who say they simply don’t have the storage space or stock available.
The Booksellers Association said that while 76% of bookshops continued to trade through the lockdown with online business, they have only seen 18% of the normal turnover – and only a third expect to reopen fully.
The world’s biggest book event, the Hay Festival, has surprised even its organisers after being forced to go digital – and proving to be more popular than ever.
It usually brings in around £30m to the small Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye, hosting around 200,000 during the 10-day event.
Festival director Peter Florence said that “in a good year we get 280,000 tickets, and so far we’ve had 512,000 registrations from 69 countries. We are astonished,” he told Sky News.
“What’s happened is that a new global audience has re-invented Hay, making something very special in the intimate and public sphere, so we’re slightly giddy about how exciting it is.”
Read more via Sky News