October is the New December: Why Shopping Early is Good for You, for Your Community, and for PSB

October is the New DecemberIf you've been on the internet, and especially if you follow a lot of book people on Twitter, you've probably seen the phrase "October is the New December" or #IndiesEarly or read a thread asking you to do your holiday shopping as early as possible this year. We've done some tweets of our own, retweeted posts we've liked from others, and shared articles, but we figured we'd collect all the reasons to shop early in a post here. So, here we go.

1. Strained Supply Chain: With COVID-19, challenges printing books, and the stress being put on the United Stated Postal Service getting books from one place to another is more difficult than it has been in ages. As the volume of shipping increases as we get closer to the winter holidays, that stress will only increase and the risk of delayed or lost shipments will increase. Every year a handful of books sell out,whether becasue the publisher didn't print enough or NPR ran a great review or they are a surprise hit for some other reason. And, every year, something happens, like a winter snow storm, to delay a delivery or two. This year, there will likely be dozens of titles that will either sell out or won't get to us in time to get them to you in time for the holidays. So, if you want a specific book for someone, the only way we can guarantee you can actually get it, is to order or buy it now.

2. Store Capacity: The Saturday before Christmas last year, we had 1,076 official customers. With a safe capacity of 10 customers at a time and limited staffing capacity, we won't be able to accommodate anywhere close to that for in store shopping. I honestly think we'd be very fortunate if we could safely accommodate somewhere close to half of that, but A TON of things would have to go right. We're doing our best to design processes to move people through the store as quickly as possible, but we still expect long lines outside in December. The more December shopping is spread out over October and November the more people we will be able to accommodate and the more of you will get the specific books you want.

3. Online Order Workflow: Even with over 15 years of online sales experience, one of the top performing independent bookstore websites in the country, and processes that we have developed and honed over those years and over the months of COVID-19, online orders still take at least twice as much time to complete as in store sales. We want you to shop online. Shopping online is safe for you and safe for us, but it takes time. As with in store capacity, the more December orders are spread out in October and November, the easier it will be for us to provide you the best customer service we can and to make sure you get the specific books you want. 

4. Potential Winter Lockdown: For months experts have warned about a surge in COVID-19 cases in the Fall and Winter. Cases in Massachusetts have been rising over the last couple of weeks pointing towards that feared surge. It is entirely possible that Massachusetts will go into a lockdown of some severity at some point in the next couple of months. We have no idea what that could look like, but whatever form it takes, it will reduce our capacity to get you your books in time. Shopping now, while there isn't a lockdown, protects you from this risk.


With all that in mind, PSB has a number of services to help you get your holiday shopping done early.

1. Free Local Delivery for Orders of $50 or More: Do you live in Cambridge or Somerville? If so, we'll deliver all orders over $50 for free. The Free Local Delivery shipping option will automatically pop up for qualifying orders.

2. The Virtual Bookseller: Fill out the form here to get set of personalized recommendations from the entire PSB staff. You can fill out the form for you or anyone in your community. As holiday shopping increases, it will be harder for us to respond to these, so request yours today.  

3. Shop with Your Pod Events: Reserve an hour at the store after it is closed to the public to shop with a group of 5-10 people. Right now, we're hosting Shop with your Pods on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but we might expand that depending how popular they are. Check our events calendar to find the available Shop with Your Pod Events.

4. Bookseller Bundles: Don't have the headspace or heartspace to pick out books on your own? Let us do it for you with our Bookseller Bundles.


A Couple Final Thoughts

Luckily, you're shopping for books. And you will never run out of good books. Sure, we might not be able to get the specific book you're looking for on time for the holildays, but there is a forgotten classic, under the radar new release, debut author, small press title, or book that just didn't get much attention for whatever reason that is just as good. There are so many good books out in the world, that we'll never be sold out of the perfect gift. Trust us to help you find it for you.

 Finally, eventually there will be an "after COVID." What that world looks like, will depend on the decisions we make now. If you want us in your community then, shop with us now. Thank you for all of your support.