In the fifty years that this store has been open, our doors have been open to the public in times of happiness and celebration and in times of uncertainty and despair. We don’t close. That is why the decision to close our doors to foot traffic today is an excruciating one.
When I started, one of my jobs was to set up for events. We lugged folding chairs from the basement to the first floor and shoved all of the shelves out of the way. We packed people in together, shoulder to shoulder, to listen to stories – human stories about the way we laugh, love, live and hurt with each other. We host events like that over 200 times a year with partners such as the library and the Ethical Society. Sometimes only four people turn up and sometimes hundreds cram themselves together.
In my career, I’ve talked to Stephen King about woodworking, introduced Sally Field by guided meditation, proved that I knew more about Little House on the Prairie than Melissa Gilbert, talked about my transgender body on stage with other transgender people, walked in protest on a crowded and angry street with thousands. This place has a magical way of doing that when we most need it. Shoulder to shoulder, page to page.
The unfolding Covid-19 Pandemic has changed the world and the deep connection we need, the reassurance of a kind shoulder on which to lean, is the very thing that puts us in danger. Our folding chairs are stacked in a quiet pile. Our events are canceled. This place, which has been a community gathering place for half a century, must close its doors to foot traffic to keep our booksellers and our customers safe and healthy.
But the eighteen of us here at the corner of Euclid and McPherson are still looking for ways to connect with you. Still telling stories. Still offering a doorway into the collective imagination of humankind. And we will until we can’t.
These are uncertain times, and fear has a way of isolating us. Let’s not forget our humanity and the better angels of our nature. Let’s read each other’s stories and tell our own even if we feel like our voices have been thrown into darkness and the space between us is an entity of its own. Let’s reach for each other anyway.
I think our cause is a worthy one and that we are an essential business, but we are a small business with razor thin margins. We can’t survive without you.
Here is what you can do to support us and make sure that after all the dust settles and this pandemic is behind us, your city’s independent bookstore is still here –
Buy books from us. We are still answering the phone, recommending books and selling them online.
Shipping is free, and we offer curbside pickup and local delivery.
Thank you for reading. We hope to see you in person soon.
on behalf of Kris Kleindienst and the staff of Left Bank Books
Alice, Meghara, Mark H, Cliff, Sarah, Amanda, Devin, John, Danielle, Jim, Shane, Amber, Phoebe, Randy, Mark T and Terry.