Monday 8 March 2021

How do we get Michael’s Bookshop back open for local history and browsing?


Here at Michael’s Bookshop in Ramsgate we have been closed since the beginning of the pandemic back in March 2020. I am beginning to look at how we could get the bookshop back open. I am very conscious of how people are missing our local history and reading and book browsing facilities.

With a large secondhand bookshop there are pandemic related problems that occur both in retail, libraries and hospitably plus a few more that apply to the secondhand part.

The building is old and was The Prince Coburg pub, the earliest written record I have is a document produced in 1821 to transfer ownership of the pub after the landlord Thomas Reed died.
There are pros and cons with this, the main pro being the rent is low. It's a full repairing commercial lease, not something anyone would take on in the current climate.

Trading in the bookshop, where a lot of customers browse for an hour or so, in amongst narrow passages with low ceilings, lined with books, presents social distancing problems. Sterilising the 30,000 books in the bookshop between customers, or waiting 72 hours between customers is not viable either.

There is also the possibility of vaccine passports.

Buying, which involves going through the books people want to sell, either by going to their houses or through the backs of their cars, well that has issues all of its own.

I have various ideas, but would like to know what other people think.

If you were in Ramsgate in the late 1960s or Early 1970s you may remember the bookshop building as Design and Colour paint and wallpaper shop.

I had my vaccine a couple of weeks ago and I think that means I have gone from having a 1 in 20 chance of death if I tested positive for the virus to about a 1 in 50 chance. Around the time we went into the previous lockdown last autumn the Thanet infection rate was the third highest in England and I became very cautious. Now the local virus rate is much lower here, around the national average - which is slowly falling. At the same time my vaccination situation means my survival rate is increasing.

On the whole bookshop customers are reasonably well educated and reasonably intelligent so will either be young or doing all of their shopping online, so there wouldn't be much point in opening until the figures are much better.

I think this maths is roughly right but I would apricate any corrections. Here in the UK about 4,000,000 people have tested positive and about 120,000 people have died. If you knock the zeros off that’s 12 in 400 or 3 in 100. To put it another way for about every 30 people who test positive 1 dies of coronavirus.

If the vaccine is 80% effective that means before the vaccine 10 people would die and after it only 2, or to look it another way instead of 1 in 30 about 1 in 250.

The younger you are the less likely you are to die and of course older not so good, the 1 in 30 applies to people around 55 years old, if you are 65 it’s about 1 in 20 and 45 about 1 in 100. Over 80 it’s about 1 in 5 and under 30 about 1 in a 1,000.

Data published by Public Health England (PHE) based on the UK's vaccine rollout showed protection against symptomatic COVID in those over 70, four weeks after the first jab, ranged between 60-73% and 57-61% for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.