Back To Bookstores: How To Browse Without Being A Bellend

The world is slowly reopening after COVID-19, which means, among many other fun things, that we can all finally return to our favourite stores.

Many people love browsing through clothing stores or looking at shoes, while I, and many others, love browsing through book stores.

Book stores are great to visit, but I’ve noticed, as I return to them, that some people don’t have any manners or, apparently, social skills.

Things have been open for a while here in the UK, but I know that every country is different. What isn’t different, is that you need to be looking out for others while you’re shopping for books.

Buying books in a store is a valuable way to help local businesses in your community that have struggled since the pandemic began. It’s also a fun and soothing activity that is great for book lovers, but you have to do it right without behaving like an absolute arse.

So, what I’m trying to say is, whether you love second-hand bookshops like me, or you’re a fan of big chains and buying new books, don’t be a douche. If you need to know how, here are some tips.

Wear A Mask If You Can

The mask laws might have been rescinded in many countries, but where possible you should keep wearing one in crowded places. It’ll mean that if you do have anything, then you’ll reduce the chance of it spreading to others who share your space. It’ll also mean that you’ll reduce the number of pathogens that you could potentially transfer to surfaces that you breathe on. Many people might think that wearing a mask now is pointless, but it’s a kind thing to do. Also, during the time when masks were a legal requirement, you probably bought some reusable ones. You can’t use them for anything else, so you might as well wear them!

Sanitise Your Hands Before You Start Touching Stuff

Most shops have sanitiser at the entryway, so you can easily clean your hands before you start browsing. If you’re visiting a small bookshop that doesn’t have sanitiser for customers, then you should use your own sanitiser before you start touching books. Hand sanitisers aren’t an alternative to washing your hands, particularly after you’ve eaten, touched animals or used the bathroom. However, in between visiting different shops and touching surfaces like door handles, it can be a useful way to make sure that your hands are clean and reduce your chances of transferring bacteria from different areas.

Give Staff And Other Shoppers Some Space

Like the mask laws, social distancing rules have also been relaxed in many areas. Still, it’s kind to give other people their space. Some people might not be feeling very safe right now, and others might still be adjusting to being in close contact with others after the pandemic. So, don’t go getting up in strangers’ grills. If the bookshop that you’re visiting is small, then you might have to wait to get to a bookshelf or to move around the store. Be patient and remember that everyone is struggling right now, so your kindness could make a massive difference to someone. If you need to ask the staff for help, then be polite and respectful (as you should always be). Don’t crowd them and if the staff member asks you to wait behind a screen or stand back, just do it.

Only Pick Up Books You’re Genuinely Interested In Or Considering Buying

In bookshops, it’s fun to pick up books and read the blurb. However, if you’re not interested in buying it or learning more about it, then you shouldn’t pick it up. If you can read the blurb on the back without lifting the book, for example if it’s placed backwards on the shelf, then you should try to read the back without touching it. If you decide that you’d like to purchase the book, then you can pick up one copy to take to the counter. If the store has one of those mobile zapper things to scan the barcode with, then hold the book out for the cashier to scan, so they don’t have to touch it. If the bookseller has to type in a code, then try reading it out for them, again, so they don’t have to touch the book. It’s a simple kindness but it could go a long way. If the person serving you is willing to touch the book, then fair play to them, but remember that everyone is different and try to help where you’re able to do so.

Buy A Gift Voucher If You Don’t Want A Book

Book sales have risen during the pandemic, but many bookstores, particularly small independent ones, have still found the pandemic tough. So, it’s more important now than ever before that you support these stores if you want them to stay open so you can keep visiting them. If you don’t want to by a book during your visit, then you could consider buying a gift card to support the store. You could give the gift card as a present for someone you love, or you could just keep them for yourself to use at a later date. Buying a gift card means that the store has some extra money now, at a time when things are precarious.

Be Nice

It sounds super obvious, but just try your best to be kind as much as you can. If you think someone else is being overly cautious, or doing something that you don’t agree with, just leave it and don’t force your opinion on others. Everyone has their own way of coping with this crisis, so as long as it’s not harming you, try to accept others as much as possible. The main message of this blog post is that everyone has a different way of coping with the pandemic, and you should do your best to be mindful of that. If you do, then the chances are that more people will also be respectful of your own boundaries and you’ll find book shopping more enjoyable.

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