A new lockdown triggered by rising COVID-19 infections has prompted the iconic Paris bookstore Shakespeare and Company to ask the public for assistance, according to an Associated Press report on Friday (Nov. 6).
The publisher of “Ulysses” by James Joyce in 1922, the famous French bookstore — which was founded by American ex-patriot Sylvia Beach in 1919 — is turning to its customer base to help it survive a second round of coronavirus lockdowns that were enacted in Paris on Oct. 30.
Located along the Seine River, the legendary shop counts numerous famous expatriate authors among its fanbase, including Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who used the shop as a creative hangout. Joyce used the bookstore as his office and referred to it as “Stratford-upon-Odeon.”
The English-language bookstore emailed its customers and asked them to buy a book to help ease the “hard times” associated with the pandemic.
“We’ve been (down) 80 percent since the first confinement in March, so at this point, we’ve used all our savings,” Sylvia Whitman, daughter of the late proprietor George Whitman, told the AP.
The appeal worked, with the bookseller reporting a record 5,000 online orders in one week. Typical online orders number about 100, the company said.
Many customers contacted Whitman simply to make a donation, some in memory of milestone events like falling in love or even sleeping at the store.
“(My father) let people sleep in the bookshop and called them ‘tumbleweeds.’ We’ve had 30,000 people sleep in the bookshop,” Whitman said.
When the store’s founder, Sylvia Beach, published the 700-page “Ulysses,” it was quite controversial. “No one else dared publish it in full … she became one of the smallest publishers of one of the biggest books of the century,” Whitman said.
Upon news of the second pandemic lockdown, the European Central Bank (ECB) joined the chorus of concerns from businesses across the U.K.