How a local bookstore is adapting to the pandemic


Samatha Bravo

The interior of the bookstore before it closed in late March.

Michaella Huck, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Wide aisleways, comfy chairs, soft background music and a wall dedicated to employee suggestions is what attracted book lovers to a local bookstore. As the coronavirus pandemic worsened, it has forced The $10 or Less Bookstore to adapt to these unusual times.

The bookstore is a local budget-friendly hangout which opened in 2012 on the corner of Tampa Avenue and Nordhoff Street. It has since relocated a few miles down to a bigger location on Tampa Avenue.

The $10 or less bookstore front on Tampa and Parthenia St. (Michaella Huck)

Since its opening, the store has prided itself on providing a sanctuary for book lovers through events. The store frequently hosted open mic nights and provided spacious areas for customers to sit and read prior to the pandemic.

The store is also proud to offer affordable books. $10 or Less Bookstore buys books from a range of sources, including large private collections and publisher’s overstocks, at low bulk prices, which it then sells to its customers.

The bookstore first closed its doors on March 20 due to the stay-at-home orders put in place by Gov. Gavin Newsom amidst the pandemic. After the Los Angeles County announced the relaxation of these orders, the $10 or Less Bookstore partially reopened on May 11.

Since the store is stocked with books from many different origins, it lacks a way to track the store’s inventory. This is an important facet needed for customers to select books of their choice\; As a result, the store implemented a plan to provide customers with the browsing experience they have lost access to during the pandemic.

The bookstore is now offering surprise book bundles. Customers who are interested in purchasing books can call the store, select four genres and receive a book from each genre or the same genre for $10. This enables customers to have the same experiences they felt previously while browsing shelves and searching for something that piques their interest.

For customers who aren’t so much into surprises, the store posts certain books they have available. Customers can pick up a single book on a first-come-first-serve basis by sending a direct message via Instagram or calling the store.

“It’s really important for people to have access to books because in a time when so many options for entertainment and education require technology and an internet connection. Books are one of the few completely self-contained information sources. Not everybody has the luxury of an iPhone or reliable Wi-Fi, but anybody who can read can enjoy a book,” said Katie Wright, assistant manager of the bookstore.

According to a preliminary estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau, book store sales fell more than 33% in March. For a small business, this is damaging.

While many bookstores around the country continue to struggle to modify their businesses during the pandemic, $10 or Less has managed to use social media as their friend, Wright explained. By giving customers resources and entertainment via the internet, the store is able to maintain their customer engagement.

The store stays active on Instagram. Recently, they combined books and social media to deliver some words of encouragement to their readers. “The Complete Life’s Little Instruction Book,” by H. Jackson Brown contains 1,560 numbered one-liners that give readers advice and sentences to think about. Customers were able to pick a number between one and 1560, and the numbered one-liner would be posted. Posts included messages such as, “138. Never deprive someone of hope\; it might be all they have,” and “33. Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.”

The store also used their platform to provide customers with alternative choices for low-priced book options from an online bookseller, Abebooks, whose mission is to provide customers with the ability to “discover and buy the books, fine art, and collectibles that they love,” according to their website.

As things change daily due to the coronavirus pandemic, Wright explained the best way for customers to stay updated on the store is through their Instagram, @Tendollarbookstore.