Hard Bound

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Since opening in 1981, Copperfield’s Books has survived earthquakes, fires and floods, and fought off big box stores and the Internet itself.

The independent bookseller not only survived these adversaries and events, it’s thrived; with nine locations in Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties.

Yet, it’s never faced an economic threat like the current shelter-in-place that looms over the North Bay during the coronavirus outbreak. Co-owner and co-founder Paul Jaffe discusses how his business is coping.

First and foremost, how is your health and the health of your staff?

PAUL JAFFE: We’ve been checking in, there’s nobody on our staff who currently has the coronavirus. Two of my managers, right before it broke, came back from a trip to Paris and they did self-quarantine for 14 days, but nobody that we know has Covid-19.

Have you had to lay-off or furlough people on your staff (which numbers 120)?

PJ: Yes, pretty much everybody. There’s only a handful of people working part-time, including myself and another person in another part of the building handling unemployment claims.

What steps are you taking for online ordering and shipping?

PJ: Our online store is fully functional. If people order from us, books will be shipped directly to their homes. I know there are some other bookstores who are doing some curbside pickup, we’re not ready to do anything like that at the moment. Right now, the best thing for sure would be to order online. That would be a huge support for us in this very challenging time.

Is Copperfield’s Books better or worse positioned than other bookstores facing the same challenges?

PJ: I wouldn’t want to say better or worse, there’s some bookstores with only three employees who may not have the safety net we do, not that we have a big one.

Given the uncertainty of the current situation, what do you think about when you contemplate the near future?

PJ: Our motto has always been “creating community together,” and that’s why we’re such a part of the social fabric of every community where we have a store. We miss providing that service, but we know we need to sleep well and get healthy, and definitely be ready to open when we are allowed to.

Copperfield’s Books is online at copperfieldsbooks.com.

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