New Yorkers and book lovers around the country rushed to the rescue after the owner of the city's beloved Strand bookstore warned that it was facing the toughest times in its 93-year history. Owner Nancy Bass Wyden—granddaughter of the store's founder—tweeted Friday that sales were down 70% year-on-year and the business, the last survivor from the 48 original bookstores on Manhattan's "Book Row," was becoming "unsustainable," the Guardian reports. "We need to mobilize the community to buy from us so we can keep our doors open until there is a vaccine," she wrote. Over the next two days, there were lineups stretching around the block and the store received so many online orders that its website crashed. One customer bought 197 books.
Wyden tells the Washington Post that the store received 25,000 online orders over the weekend. The normal total would have been around 600. "How can I not love my book community for helping like this?" she says. "I really don’t think that we’re just a bookstore. I think we’re a place of discovery and a community center. When I ask for help and they respond this fast, it’s so heartwarming." The American Booksellers Association says that with events like book signings canceled during the pandemic, independent bookstores are closing at the rate of more than one a week. Strand customer Dan Bressner tells the New York Times that he decided to show up and support the store despite recent labor disputes. It's "an institution," he says. "My parents shopped here." (Read more bookstore stories.)