Boulder Book Store Offers ‘Mystery Bags’ Entertainment, Free Shipping, Must-Read Readings During Coronavirus Crisis – Boulder Daily Camera


Editor’s Note: After the publication of this article, the stay-at-home ordinance entered into force. Boulder Book Store will not take calls, deliver or sell “mystery bags” during this time, but will continue to process online orders through the store’s wholesaler.

“Apart from a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it is too dark to read.
Groucho Marx

While several Front Range restaurants offer take-out orders and now even take-out cocktails to keep people happy in these times of social distancing, one Pearl Street establishment is hoping to keep spirits energized.

Boulder Book Store, a supplier of literary works since 1973, has been forced to close temporarily as a result of the coronavirus, but remains an excellent source of diverse, informative and entertaining novels, memoirs and more. While people will no longer be able to browse the three-tiered store or attend an author conference in person, they can explore the vast selection of bestsellers and dark gems available on the store’s site.

Arsen Kashkashian, chief buyer and general manager of Boulder Book Store, continues to make things work with deliveries and shipments during the store’s temporary closure in response to the coronavirus. (Arsen Kashkashian / Courtesy photo)

Until March 24, the store offered convenient curbside pickup. Providing door-to-door deliveries within the city limits of Boulder, Boulder Book Store is dedicated to keeping boredom at bay. The store even waived shipping costs during this period. We caught up with Chief Buyer and Managing Director Arsen Kashkashian to find out what it’s like to still serve the community during a pandemic, what he sees for book sales during this time of isolation, and what current recommendations should be on the shelves of houses.

Daily Camera: I love that through all this coronavirus madness you still offer deliveries to Boulder and free delivery on orders. How was it trying to serve your customers during this shutdown?

Arsen Kashkashian: It has been an interesting challenge. With online ordering, we are trying to streamline our systems to get these books out as soon as possible. It has been a learning experience for us and one that will help us with online sales once we get through this pandemic. We also started selling mystery book bags. Customers can order a $ 100 mystery bag from our site and give us an idea of ​​what they like to read and we will send or deliver a bag to them. If a customer wants to order another amount of $ 50 or $ 150 for example, they can call the store. We’ve had about a dozen people to do it so far.

DC: Do you think this call to keep people inside will actually increase book sales?

AK: I would like to think that with the people who stay inside, this reading will increase. You can only watch TV and play so many video games before your eyes need to look away from a screen. However, I believe that the current economic insecurity is not conducive to the sale of books. So I’m not sure what’s really going to happen when it comes to increased sales or not. Plus, a lot of our daily sales come from shipping. I think half of our sales come from customers who weren’t expecting to buy a book but walked around the store and saw something they couldn’t resist. These sales have disappeared.

DC: In what ways can the community support you during this time of closure?

AK: We really want to support the community in any way we can. You can call us and just ask us for recommendations or book suggestions. If anyone in Boulder is going to purchase a book, we ask that you consider purchasing it from us during this time. We are local. We are your neighbors.

Mollie Theis is reading books on ...

Cliff Grassmick / Personal Photographer

Mollie Theis checks the books for sale at the Boulder Book Store on the Pearl Street Mall on March 14. Several nearby restaurants and bars have announced self-imposed closures in an attempt to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Now, Boulder Book Store has also closed, but offers deliveries and shipping. (Cliff Grassmick / Personal Photographer)

DC: I know you had to cancel a number of events. Do you plan to offer virtual readings or Q&A with featured authors?

AK: We are looking to reschedule events. If the storefront continues to be closed for several weeks, we’ll start looking for ways to connect authors and readers online. I think everyone is a little shocked right now for this to be an effective way to hold an event.

DC: Finally, I read that you encourage people to call if they are looking for book recommendations. Do you have any recommendations for us? Particularly entertaining page-turners in this time of social distancing?

AK: Blake Crouch’s new book “Recursion” has just been released in paperback format. It’s a mind-boggling thriller that’s almost impossible to let go. There are several deadlines that I am still trying to resolve. I would also recommend “The Gifted School” by Bruce Holsinger. It takes place in a fictional town of Boulder and features a group of parents desperately trying to get their children into a magnetic college for gifted and talented children. I also really think Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s short story collection “Sabrina and Corina” is wonderful. She follows the plight of Latin women and girls who live in Colorado. He was a finalist for the National Book Award and The Story Prize. Crouch and Fajardo-Anstine live in Colorado. Holsinger lived here and his whole book takes place here. Two new books that people don’t want to miss are Erik Larson’s “The Splendid and the Vile,” a documentary portrayal of Churchill and the London bombings by one of the world’s most entertaining documentary writers. America ; “The Mirror and the Light” by Hilary Mantel is the last novel in her fictional account of the life of Thomas Cromwell which began with “Wolf Hall”. His first two books won the Booker Prize. It is one of the most anticipated novels of the year.


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