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Bloomington booksellers voice importance of supporting local bookstores during the pandemic


The Friends of the Library Bookstore has created the program Blind Date with a Bag of Books, which allows customers to purchase multiple books for an affordable price.The bookstore is located in the Monroe County Public Library, and all proceeds will go to the library. Courtesy Photo

The Friends of the Library Bookstore, located in the Monroe County Public Library, is about a month and a half into its Blind Date with a Bag of Books program. This program allows customers to purchase five books for $5.

The local bookstore created the program to allow customers to purchase five books for $5. Customers can choose the genres of the books they want and choose how they pay on the Friends of the Library website. All proceeds go to the Monroe County Public Library. 

“Bookstore purchases make library services and programs possible, especially as the Library is expanding virtual services and digital content our community needs now more than ever,” said Mary Jean Regoli, office manager of the bookstore, in an email.

This program helps small businesses like Friends of the Library keep their doors open, with the rise of digital texts. Bookstore operator Mike Burns said in an email it's important to support a traditional bookstore as opposed to using services such as eBay and Amazon.

“Local businesses, in general, provide jobs and services and advertising money and taxes and countless other benefits to their communities that multinational corporations simply cannot,” Burns said. “All of the money spent locally stays within the community. I can walk into any store locally and get what I want instantaneously, something that Amazon hasn't quite figured out how to do”.

Bookstore volunteer Debora Shaw said it’s important for young people to continue going to community bookstores because of the experience of it.

“Bookstores give you the opportunity to browse and take books off the shelf, and it can give one the opportunity to get the feel of the book and the print and really experience a book in a way one can’t digitally,” Shaw said. “Bookstores are also a place where you run into other people, so the chance to talk to people that might have read books that you might like and didn’t even know about or running into people with similar interests is something special.” 

Shaw said another aspect to think about is how much bookstores give to the community. She said there have been times when educators will come looking for teaching materials or books to read to their classes and leave satisfied.

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