Along with all other non-essential businesses, bookstores and libraries closed across the country this week. Reading is an educational but calming hobby that you could consider taking up this lockdown, but where can you buy books?

Most bookstores have managed to move their services online. However, some argue that it isn’t the same as stepping foot into a store. Avid book readers are missing the community that reading brings and choosing a book in person. Over several lockdowns, retailers such as Amazon have overtaken independent bookstores, leaving local stores losing business. However, these local bookstores have a more personal touch that needs to be preserved, rather than online services’ “Add to Basket” icon.  Amazon Marketplace is a great starting place to find small businesses, rather than ordering directly from Amazon.

Nevertheless, Colchester’s very own Red Lion Books has catered for their loyal and new customers throughout the pandemic. The friendly staff have opened their doors when they could and provided advice and orders over email or telephone. The shop bought joy to the people of Colchester, as well as spreading their unique community feel. But, like most things in the past year, it has been a weird situation.

Jo, from Red Lion Books, said that the store “survived all the challenges and found new ways to connect with people” but of course, “this is not (their) ideal situation…(they) like our customers and (they) wanted to see them in the shop”.

In addition to bookstores, libraries have closed too. Many residents in Colchester depend on the Colchester and Greenstead libraries for their literature needs. Over the lockdowns, children have also needed resources for their studies. Seeing these places closed has been devastating for the book-readers. However, Essex libraries still offer services online so you can surf e-books and e-magazines.

So, what can we do whilst staying at home? It is impossible to get the same feeling of personally buying a book but consider buying from independent stores to get that personal touch. Supporting small business is essential during this pandemic. Though suspended right now, Waterstones offer click-and-collect services during the tier system or you can order online like normal. You could consider starting a book swap with friends, leaving books outside your doors.

These closures have bought a question, is the literature industry suffering considerably due to COVID-19? In short, the answer is yes. Consider saving the literature industry when you buy gifts for others or yourself.