Closed by coronavirus, this Wallingford poetry bookstore found a way to open online

It’s a tiny storefront — just 500 square feet — but Wallingford bookstore Open Books has always been an especially inviting space. Its owner, Billie Swift, has watched people fall in love with the shop again and again.

“We are across the street from a physical therapy center,” Swift explains, and patients who are early for their appointments often wander into the shop. Swift says that she’s used to seeing the customers panic when they walk several feet inside and start browsing, only to realize that Open Books is a poetry bookstore — in fact, one of only two or three poetry-only bookshops in the country.

At first, “they’re terrified,” Swift laughs. But it doesn’t take very long for Swift or one of Open Books’ other two booksellers to strike up a conversation and make recommendations. They guide customers to the back of the shop, toward “what I believe to be the perfect reading chair,” Swift says. “We have a little table by it, and we love nothing more than sitting someone down and piling up a stack of books next to them.”

Swift says those accidental Open Books customers quickly learn that “their love of books in general means that they are perfectly at home in a poetry bookstore.”

Teensy Wallingford bookstore Open Books has made the big move online, taking its expansive poetry collection entirely digital to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy of Open Books)

But like every other bookstore in Washington in the time of social distancing, Open Books has been closed to the reading public for about a month…

(Continue reading at the Seattle Times.)

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