Set aside for a moment the moral dilemma of whether it is okay to shut bookstores to keep people safely at home because print books are deemed not essential, and then ask warehouse and delivery services to put themselves at risk to deliver those same deemed-not-essential books to consumers.
The reality is that governments have left loopholes that both businesses and consumers are happy to exploit to ensure print books keep shifting.
And this week Ireland’s national postal service An Post has stepped up to the mark with a deal that will keep publishers, booksellers and readers happy. (Although what Ireland’s postal workers may feel about it is another matter.)
For just 2.95 euros ($3.18) booksellers can send book packages of up to 10kg through An Post to Irish addresses, using a special promo code which can be applied at local post-offices or online.
For An Post Mails and Parcels, Managing Director Garrett Bridgeman explained:
We are really aware of the challenges facing SMEs such as booksellers during this crisis and An Post’s purpose is to work for the common good. Books are always important, but with so many people confined to their home or local area, they’re a wonderful boredom buster and a passport to good use of free time for readers of all ages.
While John Keane, chairman of the Irish Booksellers’ Association said:
Booksellers, having been forced to close their doors during the crisis, are being greatly supported by An Post in dealing directly with readers and finding new customers during what is a very difficult time for the sector.
The Irish Times reports that the move coincides with the reopening of the country’s biggest distribution warehouse, Gill.
Ireland is of course also amply served by digital books, with Irish consumers able to buy from both Kindle UK and Kindle US, and with a Google Play IE and Apple IE both offering dedicated Ireland stores, and most subscription services being available.