No, we’re not open yet, even though our Governor’s team has declared Dallastown’s York County in the “yellow” zone. That is, we could open if we could abide by CDC-inspired safety precautions for our customers and staff. Our back offices and mail-out work rooms are simply not configured for social distancing so we can’t have our wonderful team in place quite yet. We miss Amy, Diana, and Patti, but we will not put them in danger. We tend to be conservative on this whole “opening up” business and think it wise to care well for the common good by playing it safe. The CDC is still recommending that retailers, like restaurants, only be open for curbside delivery.
Beth and I (with some help from a volunteer relative) have been working hard to keep up with our curb-side deliveries and the appreciated but taxing upsurge in online mail-orders. For now, we are glad our friends and fans are praying for our stamina and wisdom and sending orders our way. It really helps and we are grateful.
This may be the first BookNotes that isn’t highlighting new titles, offering book reviews, and making reading suggestions. I’m really, really sorry — I suspect it might hurt my heart more than it does yours, but we just can’t swing doing our typical weekly BookNotes columns these days. I’ve got stacks of new titles I’m longing to tell you about, but just don’t have the bandwidth to do so. (So, I invite you to go back over some of those hefty BookNotes columns that you skipped in months and years gone by. There’s a lot of content at our website even though our inventory isn’t listed. I’m sure you can find something inspiring there.)
With the surge in online inquiries and phone consultations and mail out orders, we are just swamped. Since we lost our socially-rewarding and in-come producing off-site events this Spring (not to mention all the cancellations of events planned for this Summer, another which was announced just today) we are financially taking a huge hit. It’s bad. Those retreats and conferences and clergy gatherings and book displays that we do each season provided a good bit of our reliable income. Of course, due to the Covid crisis, the walk-in traffic from friends and customers here at the shop are also all gone.
I’ve said it in our personal email notes back to customers and mentioned it at Facebook, but it is ironic that now that we don’t have staff or employees here, we are blessed with an uptick in orders. That Amazon has said they are “de-prioritizing books” has caused a lot of folks to come to us. Sure, it’s awkward being second or third choice (pray for my attitude, friends) but we’ll take it. We are pleased, truly, to serve folks who need personalized customer service in these hard times. The feedback we’ve gotten has been remarkable, really, and we are deeply touched to have helped so many people in these hard times.
What a joy it has been (if joy is the right word to utilize in such poignant matters) to get to tuck little notes into children’s books, saying that their grandparents are eager to Zoom with them to read the book together, since they are apart. I never thought we’d get to write notes to people who could not attend real funerals, but pastors have sent us lists of bereaved folks and asked us to send books to them, with encouraging notes of consolation. Pastors doing pre-marital counseling have asked us to send a workbook to the guy and the gal at different addresses. We have sent books to prisoners, praying for their well-being in those dangerous locations. Beth and I have been given lists addresses to send books to partipants in on-line book clubs or studies and we’ve been asked to correspond with seekers who might want to read a book about faith. We’ve been asked for novels, for online Bible study suggestions, for suggestions about thinking faithfully about this digital age.
Of course, it’s been fun to send out graduation gifts to these dozen high-schoolers or those dozen college grads. (A special thanks to those who have ordered my book, Serious Dreams: Bold Ideas for the Rest of Your Life. It’s been fun autographing those to graduating collegiates.)
Still, we need more business in these complicated days and we invite you to hang in there with us. Browse through our old BookNotes columns and consider those titles I raved about which I proclaimed would be good for you. Send us an inquiry if you’d like, or, better, a real order. Or pre-order anything you are anticipating. We can handle that for you easily. We’d be grateful.
(If you want us to send something to someone else on your behalf, do tell us if you want us to enclose a note or gift wrap the item. That’s helpful info to give us up front, and we’re glad to customize your order any way you’d like.)
We’d be grateful if we knew that you knew that we are a bit backlogged. We pride ourselves in great customer service, but we’ve blown it a time or two this season. We apologize if we fouled anything up. We’re sorry that our supply chain is itself backlogged, although we are glad that publisher and distributor warehouses are being conscientious, even if it means we must be a bit more patient than usual. Also, despite the complications that feel disappointing to us, we’ve been told by many that we’ve served them well, and that makes us glad. Give the glory to God who keeps us going, even in difficult circumstances. We thank God for our sales reps, publisher friends, authors, and book cheerleaders who have tried to alert the public about new titles. We’ll be back doing Booknotes soon, we hope, so we’ll be describing all sorts of new, good titles. In the mean time, we salute those who have helped us stay busy these past weeks.
And we offer condolences to those who have been ill, who have lost loved ones, who have been stressed by serving in the front lines of the pandemic and serving the sick. You are doing God’s work, and pray that you sense Christ’s presence and hope even in your sadness.
In such hard days, books can be real sources of wisdom, self-improvement, and even stimulating entertainment. How can we help you deepen your own discipleship and expand your heart in these times? How might we encourage your own reading habits? Give us a call, send us a note, fill out the order form page. Be as specific as you can and we’ll do our best to meet your needs. After so many decades of selling books and talking about the spiritual significance of reading widely, we’re not about to stop. We may be a bit slower, but we are sure you understand. Books matter, especially in times like these. Be safe. Read on.
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Hearts & Minds 234 East Main Street Dallastown PA 17313