With the Covid-19 pandemic still a serious threat, the book retailing giant Waterstones has announced that, as stores begin to re-open, it intends to take handled books off shelves and into a 72-hour lockdown in an effort to sanitize any books that may be hosting the virus. Shoppers will be asked to put any books they handle but don’t purchase into a tray, where it will be stored away for at least 72-hours to help keep customers safe.
According to The Guardian, Chief executive of Waterstones, James Daunt, said the retailer has been advised that the Covid-19 virus is unable to survive long on paper or cardboard, but the company will take extra precautions to allow the books to be safe before being put on store shelves.
Other measures will also be introduced in order to help protect both staff and shoppers. Only a certain amount of customers will be allowed inside stores and perspex screens will be erected in front of tills. A one-way system will be implemented, social distancing rules will be put in place and Waterstones cafés will not be open for business.
While Waterstones has not sold any books via its physical stores since the lockdown, it has seen a 300 percent rise in online sales. After staff reported feeling unsafe, Waterstones stores began shutting down just ahead of the UK government’s official lockdown announcement.
Daunt reported that many classic bucket list books have proven to be popular, though the bestseller so far for Waterstones has been Rutger Bregman’s Humankind, which proposes most people’s instincts are generally good. Daunt said: “Reading was quite robust before lockdown and if anything this has been positive [for promoting reading]. But there has been an extraordinary subtle change in what people are reading.”