It’s weird to say, but things have been fairly normal here at Microcosm Publishing & Distribution the last couple of weeks.
Personally, I’ve worked from home for the past week, which isn’t usual for me but it’s always been an option. Our small staff of 13 people have always worked staggered shifts and worked from home regularly. There are definitely more bottles of hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes being passed around than usual. The skeleton crew in the office is practicing giving each other six feet. We’ve moved our bookstore operation to mailorder and curbside pickup only. But otherwise, we’re getting on with our introverted business more or less as usual. For now.
[Update, three days later: The State of Oregon just went on lockdown, which means… pretty much the same thing, but with even more working from home, even more handwashing, and asking all deliveries and pickups to come to our side gate.]
We’ve always printed our books here in the United States, and so right now we’re not seeing any significant delays in publication of our titles. Orders have slowed a bit, but we’re using the time to get caught up on a serious backlog of work that’s built up in our last year and a half of hectic growth. Far from reducing hours or laying anyone off, we’re cautiously moving forward with the hiring process we began last month. In other news: we aren’t going anywhere.
Ultimately, our strength has always resided in how we’ve built up communities around us, and so we’ve started to work on strengthening those where we can through a variety of ways:
- Dr. Faith Harper is doing a live story time with her book Coping Skills on our Facebook page. She’ll be doing it nightly at 5 p.m. central until she’s done, and the videos will be archived on our page at least until this passes.
- At the request of the author, we’ve made the ebook version of Teenage Rebels 99 cents. We hope we can inspire some of the millions of high school students currently sitting at home and help them continue learning. [Update: The author of Crate Digger has also requested we put both the ebook and audiobook versions of this Florida punk scene history on super sale!]
- If you’re bored at home and starting to struggle, we’ve got a quarantine self-care pack for you – just $20 for the physical books, $15 for the ebooks.
- For retailers who are offering support, ideas, and solace to freaked out customers, we’ve created a Community Support display pack with quarantine-friendly bestsellers like This Is Your Brain on Anxiety and Making Stuff and Doing Things
- We’ve curated a list of relevant titles on our Quarantine Survival Guide list of project-based books for people who are feeling anxious or just need something to do.
- If you’re stocked up on books and want to help others, you can do that here! We’ve set up a “give books to people in need” program where you can support sending care packages to spread the book love. As always, we are stepping up to offer ways to offer our books to people who are most vulnerable and in need. We are matching funds from donations at link.
- To further help folks, you can also donate a gift certificate to Street Books, send books to prisoners, or send a gift of books (we can choose for you if you aren’t sure) with a note directly to a friend.
- We’re going to net-90 terms for independent bookstores who place orders placed before April 30th.
We’d love to hear from you, our customers and peers, about how you’re surviving these weird, weird times and what we can do to support you.