Resources for Reopening

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Staff Safety:

Booksellers during COVID

Before returning to work:

  • Order PPE and cleaning supplies (see list at right).
  • Hire a cleaning company to do a deep clean of your store.
  • Have a plan in place in the event an employee tests positive for COVID-19.
  • Tell staff what to expect when they return to work and listen to their concerns.
  • Plan who will return to work and when; take into account predicted revenue as well as individual employee’s health concerns. Allow employees whose jobs can be done remotely to work from home.
  • Review steps and considerations for returning furloughed employees to work. There are best practices as well as legal considerations.
  • Review new store policies via email, signage, and a store meeting (which can be virtual, even if staff are in the store).
  • Reconfigure desks, office spaces, workstations, meeting areas, and break rooms to adhere to the social distancing recommendations. Remove furniture as needed.
  • Talk to your HVAC vendor about installing the highest efficiency rated ventilation filters recommended or allowed by the manufacturer.
  • Talk to your landlord about rent relief.

Once at work: 

  • Provide gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer. Require staff to use these items and be sure to train staff on how to use them.
  • Train staff on hand-washing best practices and establish a schedule for hand-washing. Monitor hand-washing areas throughout the day to ensure soap and paper towels are full.
  • Require staff members to self-monitor for illness and stay home if they are sick; adjust your attendance policy accordingly.
  • Establish a regular sanitizing schedule, including wiping down phones, keyboards, registers, and customer areas. Partner with other local businesses to share sources for cleaning and safety materials and coordinate discounts.
  • Stagger shifts for employees or split shifts for employees working in areas where social distancing cannot be adhered to. Where possible, arrange shifts to maintain same staff working together.
  • Do not allow staff to share store equipment; assign one staff member per register or phone, for example.
  • Make hand sanitizer available to staff at each workstation.
  • Restrict interaction between employees and delivery personnel; implement touchless receiving practices if possible.
  • Understand that your suppliers have also had to lay off employees and may require some time to return to normal operations.
  • Install a retail counter shield at checkout and information areas.
  • Require customers to wear masks and adhere to social distancing.
  • Have a plan of action to address customers who are not adhering to social distancing or mask guidelines.
  • Regularly review safety measures to ensure staff are understanding and complying. Additionally, regularly review safety measures to ensure they are effective.

Booksellers during COVIDCustomer Safety:

  • Prepare a statement for customers about your decision to reopen or not reopen. Share it with staff and post it on your door and website.
  • Tell customers what to expect before they arrive; communicate your store’s policies through emails, your website, social media, and signage.
  • Calculate how many people can be in your store at a time based on the six-foot social distancing guideline and display your capacity limit.
  • To control the number of customers at one time, consider scheduling appointments or setting up a designated queue area outside the store. Talk to nearby retailers or your shopping center manager to manage lines and avoid crowding.
  • Consider implementing special hours for at-risk customers.
  • If possible, have separate entrance and exit points.
  • Leave doors open to minimize the number of people having to touch them.
  • Provide commercial hand sanitizer at the entrances for customers.
  • Greet customers and explain the social distancing requirements. Use your store’s in-store audio system to remind customers of social distancing rules.
  • Post signage asking customers to stay six feet apart when browsing the aisles, in line at the checkout counter, or in line outside the door. Use floor tape to show what six-foot distancing looks like.
  • Widen aisles or limit access to aisles to one or two people who are socially distancing. Reconfigure or eliminate gathering spaces to allow for six feet of social distancing. Remove furniture as necessary and be sure emergency exits are still easily accessible.
  • Make store aisles one-way; use tape to make arrows on the floor.
  • Post signage on elevators asking customers to ride the elevator one at a time.
  • Regularly clean key areas: door handles, hand rails, elevator buttons, checkout counter, shopping baskets, etc.
  • Consider closing your store’s restroom or making it available by request only.
  • Suspend the use of PIN pads.
  • Enable contactless tender and stop taking cash for the short term.
  • Make wipes available to sanitize credit card reader styluses between customers.
  • Increase bag orders, as stores are seeing more customers asking for bags. If you allow customers to bring their own bags, ask them to bag their own items.
  • Provide a trash bin for customers.
  • Suspend or extend your regular time period for customers to return items.
  • Designate a reshelving area for customers to leave books they have touched but decided not to buy. Wipe down the covers or set the books aside for 72 hours before reshelving.

Publisher Support:

  • Hachette Book Group and participating client publishers are offering reopening and recovery terms to independent bookstores in the U.S. and Canada. The terms of the Hachette Independent Bookstore Reopening and Recovery program, available on the COVID-19 Publisher Special Offers page in the Book Buyer’s Handbook, include invoice payment amortization, extended dating, additional discounts, and a returns shipping credit.
  • Macmillan and participating distribution publishers are issuing promotional terms to help independent bookstores in the U.S. recover from the significant impacts of COVID-19. The terms of the Macmillan Promotional Offers, available on the COVID-19 Publisher Special Offers page in the Book Buyer’s Handbook, include additional discounting, extended dating, and a longer timeline for repayment of outstanding balances.
  • See additional publisher offers here.

Additional resources:


Recommendations? Email [email protected] with suggestions for COVID-19 supply sources.

About ABA

The American Booksellers Association, a national not-for-profit trade organization, works with booksellers and industry partners to ensure the success and profitability of independently owned book retailers, and to assist in expanding the community of the book.

Independent bookstores act as community anchors; they serve a unique role in promoting the open exchange of ideas, enriching the cultural life of communities, and creating economically vibrant neighborhoods.


PRESS INQUIRIES: [email protected]

INDIECOMMERCE: [email protected]

ALL OTHER INQUIRIES: [email protected]



Copyright 2024 American Booksellers Association. BookWeb is a registered trademark of ABA.
Privacy Policy, Cookie Policy, Accessibility Statement