When Kindle, Amazon’s tablet-like e-reader, first appeared, pundits prophesied that it would spell doom for traditional paper books. Thanks to cellular connectivity and Americans’ insatiable appetite for convenience, people would no longer frequent traditional bookstores.
That prediction didn’t quite come true. You see fewer Kindles and tablets around these days, and a fairly large number of folks still buy magazines and paperbacks.
Still, the competitive environment has proved difficult for booksellers, particularly the small mom-and-pop establishments. In fact, an unexpected illness looked as though it might shutter one independent San Diego bookstore.
Married couple Seth Marko and Jennifer Powell are owners of the Book Catapult, The Washington Post reported. A labor of love, the newspaper even went so far as to describe it as their “second kid.”
Yet businesses can prove more challenging to care for than kids. The couple learned that when Marko received terrifying news from the doctor: He needed open-heart surgery as soon as possible.
Powell quickly got some friends to look after their 3-year-old daughter, Josephine.
But looking after a store requires more than hugs, Cheerios and the occasional viewing of a “Thomas the Tank Engine” episode. The couple’s main concern, though, was getting Marko through his 10-hour surgery and recovery.
“I honestly wasn’t really thinking about the store,” Marko told KSWB. “I just assumed that it would be closed, I guess, until further notice.
“I didn’t know how we would handle it. … It would have been pretty rough.”
However, he hadn’t counted on the kindness of Scott Ehrig-Burgess and his wife, friends who were taking care of little Josephine during the whole ordeal. See, Ehrig-Burgess worked at a bookstore himself and had the keys to the Book Catapult.
“I thought, ‘I’ll pretend this is my store for the week,’” he said. And he wasn’t the only one.
As Ehrig-Burgess began to call around, something amazing started to happen: People from competing bookstores began to step to help the Book Catapult.
He said, “People were like, ‘What can I do to help? Do you need somebody to be in the store?’
“I called four booksellers and had four volunteers. … Once I started to tell our book-selling friends what was going on, I had an entire roster.”
Soon enough, a small group of bookstore owners and employees were managing the Book Catapult in addition to their own establishments.
Warwick’s Julie Slavinsky explained, “The book world is a little bit different. I see this as helping somebody in the community. It’s the community coming together.”
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