Human ‘conveyor belt’ helps move several thousand books

When 200 people volunteered to help move books, a small independent bookstore based in Southhampton, England, was overwhelmed — in a good way.

October Books, a small independent store that had been struggling with rising rent had created a crowdfunding page to buy an old bank building down the block. The crowdfunding worked but it created another dilemma – how to move the store’s stock of 2,000 books to the new location, some 500 feet away.

The store asked for volunteers to form a “human conveyor belt”, expecting several dozen people to show up. Instead, they were overwhelmed to have 200 line up to pass the books from one to another, starting in the stockroom of the old shop and ending on the shop floor of the new one.

Amy Brown, one of the store’s employees, told National Public Radio that she was astonished by turnout.

“It was really sort of surprising and positive, and just a really moving experience to see people chipping in because they wanted to help,” Brown said.

My view is that readers are always happy to be connected with other readers. And in an age when book commerce is dominated by Amazon, many people are delighted by the idea of connecting to — and helping — a real live bookseller who is prepared to provide personalized service.

My thanks to reader Fran Gerber who forwarded this delightful story to me.