What the Coronavirus Pandemic Meant for Independent Bookstores

As people started being encouraged to stay home to prevent the spread of coronavirus, some people prepared by picking up some new books to keep them entertained at home. For book lovers in the Los Angeles area, they had plenty of renowned independent bookstores to visit, such as Larry Edmunds Bookshop in Hollywood, Stories Books & Cafe in Echo Park, Book Soup in West Hollywood, and The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles.

Although reading is a great way to spend time at home, as the coronavirus pandemic spread and people became reluctant to go out, many bookstores, particularly independent bookstores, saw a decline in sales. Things got even worse when California’s shelter-in-place order forced non-essential businesses to either close or operate on a very limited basis. 

Coronavirus Business Losses for Independent Bookstores

Even before the coronavirus pandemic began, many independent bookstores found themselves in a very precarious position. While indie bookstores commonly have devoted customer bases, trying to keep up with competition from big chain bookstores and major online retailers has long been a challenge and the pandemic made the divide between indie bookstores and the corporate sellers even more apparent. 

While book sales at brick-and-mortar stores declined, online book sales increased. But big companies like Barnes and Noble and Books-a-Million had the advantage of heading into the pandemic with online shopping systems already in place and with thousands of books available for customers to choose from. Independent bookstores, on the other hand, commonly have a much smaller online presence. In many cases, customers who wanted to support their favorite independent bookstore had to call the store to see if the books they wanted were available and to finalize their purchase. During the pandemic, indie booksellers also often started exploring other avenues for reaching customers, such as selling through social media, setting up shops on sites like Amazon and eBay, or by doing home deliveries. 

Some bookstores also saw some changes to their business model because of the pandemic. It’s very common for independent bookstores to offer a combination of new and used books, but since customers were not able to come in to sell used copies of books they’ve read, some bookstores had changes in the inventory they had available to sell. 

Many bookstores also often count on special events, such as book signings, author meet-and-greets, and parties for highly anticipated book releases, for part of their revenue. These events are based around getting people to purchase books, but restrictions placed on gatherings have put those types of events on hold for the foreseeable future. Indie booksellers also missed out on sales from the sixth annual Independent Bookstore Day, which had been planned for April 25, 2020, but ended up being postponed. 

Business Interruption Insurance & Bookstores

Retailers of all types can find themselves having to unexpectedly close their doors for a wide range of reasons. For instance, a storm or natural disaster could damage a building and render it unsafe for customers and employees. Or a power outage could make it impossible for them to process transactions. 

Closing a business just for a few days can result in significant monetary losses and the business losses caused by a prolonged closure can be devastating. To protect themselves during these types of unforeseeable events, many business owners purchase insurance policies that include business interruption and/or civil authority coverage. 

Business interruption and civil authority insurance coverage are both intended to cover many types of monetary losses business owners may encounter during a temporary closure. This could include lost revenue, employee payroll, rent/mortgage payments, and business loan payments. If a business could continue operating in a new location, relocation costs could also be covered. The difference between the two types of insurance is that civil authority insurance covers temporary business closures caused by a government order. 

Unfortunately, with so many businesses losing business because of the coronavirus pandemic, insurers have been very eager to deny as many business interruption and civil authority insurance claims as possible. 

Help for California Bookstore Owners

If you’ve made a claim for business interruption insurance and been denied, you are definitely not alone. Insurance carriers are looking for any excuse at all to deny business interruption claims, some even going as far as discouraging policyholders from even trying to make a claim in the first place. 

One of the best ways to succeed with your claim is by working with a lawyer. Dealing with insurance companies can be very intimidating, but the team at The Wallace Firm is very experienced in taking on insurance companies and helping our clients get the benefits they’re entitled to. We know the tactics they’ll use to try and get out of paying out claims and we’re currently helping California business owners with their business interruption claims. 

Whether you’re in the process of getting ready to make an insurance claim or you’ve already made a claim and been denied, we can work with you. These cases are being handled on a contingency basis, so there won’t be any fees unless we succeed in helping you with your claim. Contact us today to get started.