We are open for mail orders.
(To be perfectly clear, we wouldn’t be doing this if we weren’t confident that we can ship books without putting the staff, our customers, or the mail carriers at risk. Likewise, to maintain social distancing, the only staff that will be working in the store will be Alan and Jude, who share a household. No other staff will be present.)
We’re going to be doing one thing different from some of the other stores in town by not offering “curb-side pickup” – all our orders are going to be sent through the post office, even if you just live right around the corner from the store. We know it’s a pain in the butt and seems completely ridiculous but, first off, the Health Department Order doesn’t say anything about having customers come to pick up their items, and secondly, we believe that passing paper bags between us and you, even if we remain separated by six feet or more, isn’t consistent with the sort of social distancing that we, as a community, need.
Also, unlike other stores in the city, we’re going to have to charge shipping on all orders. The cost of shipping is high enough ($2.80 to $3.33 for media mail shipping on one book), that it would seriously eat into our margin on a sale. However, for the duration of the store closure, we are going to reduce our shipping charges to $3 for the first book, and $1.50 each for additional books.
We expect that, even within San Francisco, it will take a few days for your order to arrive. In part this is because, based on what we’ve seen, the postal service is overloaded right now. But, there will also be a delay built into our shipping process. Per the NIH, the virus that causes Covid-19 can survive up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 72 hours on plastic. Since book covers are often treated with a plastic-like substance, it’s possible that the virus could last for up to 72 hours on books that we pack. Of course, neither Jude nor Alan will be packing up books if they’re sick but that’s beside the point.
To ensure that we don’t mail you a box full of germ-y books (wrapped in germ-y bubble wraps like some sort of tasty garnish), we will be packing books on the first day after we get the order (or thereabouts) but they’ll spend the second day all boxed up at the shop. The third day we’ll drop them at the post office and they’ll arrive no sooner than the fourth day after we get the order. As a result, though we can’t make any promises about the exterior of the packaging, all of the contents should be perfectly safe. So, just like anything you get delivered, open the outside packaging, wash your hands, unpack it, wash your hands again and enjoy. Granted, the risk of infection from a contaminated surface is considered low by the CDC but, we want to take all possible steps to protect the health of our customers. (And that is why we’re not doing curb-side pickup).
One of the ways that we express our love of books is the care with which we pack them for shipping. Our packaging standards are some of the highest in the industry. This care does make our shipping cost a bit higher than average but we feel that our customers and our books are worth the extra trouble and cost.
All our books are wrapped in virgin (i.e. clean and blank, not recycled newspaper) paper before packing. Mass market (i.e. small size) paperbacks are shipped in bubble-wrap lined envelopes. Trade (i.e. large) paperbacks and hardcovers are wrapped in bubble wrap and shipped in cardboard boxes. We almost always use new boxes but we will occasionally reuse boxes for shipping, typically for larger orders.