Keep Calm and Keep Reading
UPDATE MONDAY MARCH 23: The Talking Leaves storefront is now officially closed to the public. We will continue to accept, process and ship orders from our website, and by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or telephone (716.884.9524). We will respond to all orders and inquiries as quickly as possible given the new circumstances, so please be patient. Our staff is greatly reduced until we are allowed to open again. We worked very hard over the weekend to process all your orders and get your books out to you. We’ll keep doing that, but now with reduced staff.
Under the executive order issued by Governor Cuomo on Friday, businesses are allowed to request an exempt designation as an essential business. We have applied for this exemption. We realize that books are not essential on the level of food, health and medical care, etc., but in this time of extreme crisis, disruption and anxiety reading provides a necessary oasis, a spring filled with knowledge, learning, wonder, solace and escape. Judging from the calls we’ve received over the past few days, many of you agree with us. With libraries and schools closed and many people still lacking access to digital devices or the technological savvy to use them, physical books and audio are a vital means of coping. Many of you have serious concerns about keeping your children occupied and their educational and recreational resources (puzzles and games, which we also stock) refreshed during a long disruption. We can help with that much more effectively if we can staff the store where the books are located with a minimal staff; we can do it even better if we can provide you with the same curbside service as restaurants. We understand and agree that an open storefront is not wise as we try to stop the spread of COVID-9, but we believe we will be able to contribute to the public’s mental health if we are as accessible as our food and restaurant colleagues. We don’t have any idea of how long it will take for the state to evaluate our request, or whether they will agree. When we have an answer, we will let you know. We’ll keep you updated about all changes as best we can via social media and the occasional email.
Your support and encouraging words over the past couple of weeks have been overwhelming, and only increase our resolve to fight through this and emerge stronger when we all return to whatever the new normal is. Being in a quiet, empty, partially darkened store is eerie, unsettling, and unnatural. When this is over, we’ll be the same lively place we were before this unexpected closure, filled with animated conversations in which we share our passions about books and the ideas we find there. Where you will be able to reconnect with some of your familiar interests and stumble across books that will open new worlds for you. Where you can come in for a paper, card or magazine, or spend a lunch break or an afternoon browsing for that special inspiration. There will be many stories to tell, and lessons to share, some light-hearted, some somber, more than a few tinged with the laughter of the retrospective look. We look forward to that day.
Our thoughts are with all of you, especially the sick, the folks working in health care, the public officials who’ve been working so hard to bring this pandemic under control, and those whose jobs have been lost in this trying time. Please take good care. Breathe deeply. Read—for fun, for pleasure, for escape, for learning. For each other, for all of us---read.
We hope we’ll all come through this having learned some valuable lessons, like the importance of clean hands, the nature of infectious diseases and how they spread, the importance of community to our mental and physical health, the necessity of intelligent and decisive public officials, the value of a rich and varied social life filled with all that our wonderful cultural and arts organizations regularly provide for us. And most important, let’s hope we all begin to live our lives with an understanding of the interconnectedness of all things, how our interactions with each other and with the natural world have real, long-lasting consequences. Global warming, climate change, deforestation, polluted water and earth, the extinction of plant and animal life, racism, gross inequality, the violence and devastation of wars, disposable everything, ultra-convenience—all these things, separately and in unison, make viruses like COVID-19 more able, and more likely, to afflict us. Our actions brought on much of this; our actions now can help end this crisis and stave off future ones.
Thank you, as always, for your support, and your shared belief in the value and power of books and reading. We'll see you on the other side of this.