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Coronavirus: Bookshop delivery service a huge hit with customers

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Stock picture of books on a shelf (Ryan Phillips/PA)

Stock picture of books on a shelf (Ryan Phillips/PA)

Stock picture of books on a shelf (Ryan Phillips/PA)

A bookshop that launched a delivery service for customers facing quarantine has been overwhelmed by the response.

Bridge Books in Dromore, Co Down, was swamped with orders after making an arrangement to supply any book in print directly to the customer's door, even if it is not in the shop.

Owner Lesley Price (50) said customers were keen to support local businesses - so much so that she has sold more books since launching the scheme than she has since Christmas.

"I think someone said on Twitter that if you're going to stockpile anything, stockpile books," she added.

Many customers preparing for a prolonged period of self-isolation have placed orders for the latest Marian Keyes title, while others have swooped on educational children's books as the prospect of home-schooling looms on the horizon.

Lesley came up with the idea as the seriousness of the pandemic began to hit home.

"I think the whole panic-buying thing has made people aware and they are not doing local shopping," she said.

"When they're buying their groceries, they're doing all their shopping at once and maybe also picking up a book when they are there.

"I realised at some point that I was going to have to make a decision whether to close for an unknown time or even for good - it could come to that the way the country seems to be going - but I'm hoping this will keep me afloat."

Lesley announced on Twitter on St Patrick's Day that she had reached an agreement with her wholesaler enabling the shop to have any book, provided it was available, posted directly to the customer.

"This should help keep us afloat if we have to close. Message or email me with your order, address etc and I'll provide a price quote and details of how to pay," she tweeted.

Lesley was then swamped with messages of support and customers placing orders.

"The response has been fabulous so far - I've been really overwhelmed," she said.

"Last night I was watching all the messages coming in and tweets coming in, asking if I could get XYZ, so I've started putting orders through.

"I sold more overnight than I have done since Christmas.

"Some of them (customers) have sent me messages saying they feel they should support their independent businesses, whether it be me or other small shops.

"I've explained I can't beat Amazon on prices, but no one seems to mind."

With parents facing a prolonged period of home-schooling their children, all the educational books in stock were snapped up straight away.

A range of children's augmented reality books is also proving popular.

"They're good for children with autism," Lesley said.

"You scan the cover with your phone or tablet and the books come to life.

"There are some Disney books, The Velveteen Rabbit, Cinderella, Goldilocks and a Count with Mickey.

"Everybody says social media can be dangerous and not good for your mental health, but there are some times that it's a wonderful tool."

Belfast Telegraph