Dear Bookstore Friends,

Gayle ShanksIn spite of the gorgeous spring weather and my yard overflowing with an abundance of color, my world—like yours, I suspect—is feeling discombobulated and weird. I’m finally understanding what it must have felt like for people in the 1950s who were terrified of getting polio. I think I’ve washed my hands more times in the past two weeks than I have in the last two years and must confess that I rarely used to think about touching my face (or doorknobs, or elevator buttons, or how to order takeout food so our local restaurants can remain viable), but suddenly all these things are at the forefront of my consciousness. I used to instantly say “Bless you” when someone sneezed; now I glare at them if they haven’t sneezed into their elbow!

Long before my fingers touch the keys of my computer, I’m often thinking about what I’ll write to you in this newsletter. My plan early in March, before the world changed dramatically, was to invite you to our stores to hear some wonderful authors read from their books. And I did write that letter, but suddenly it was irrelevant. I revised it twice, but until I finally finished it just today, it kept changing. 
Changing Hands on Mill

Now, since it’s already April, I can remind you that today is our 46th birthday. No fooling: Changing Hands opened its doors on April Fools Day, 1974. Who would have imagined that 46 years later, we’d have to temporarily close the doors because of a pandemic?

Your response to our temporary closure has been phenomenal. We are so grateful for your support, which is enabling us to keep our staff on the payroll filling your online orders and sending out our Booklover Care Packages. The CARES Act actually passed, and we’re studying it intensely to figure out how to receive and make the best use of the funding to support our staff and pay our ongoing expenses when our sales have greatly diminished.

I feel like I could use a care package myself—a huge one filled with answers to life’s difficult questions, with virus-proof cloaks we can wrap around ourselves and our loved ones, and magic carpets that can fly us above the clouds to visit all the people we love and want to see in the world. There are more things, too. So many more. I’m sure you’re feeling the same. Until that mythical package arrives, though, I am confounded about what to do. But one thing is certain: I’m going to read books in the meantime.

Many of you have reached out to us, asking, “What can I do to help Changing Hands in these uncertain times?” The answer? Buy a Changing Hands gift card for yourself, your friends, your family—anyone. Gift cards are like “mini-loans” to us, and require only a small amount of work from our reduced staff. Down the road, you can use them to buy gifts and books, while right now we can use the funds to defray the costs of being temporarily closed to the public. You can also buy books and care packages online at Your support, in whatever form it takes, means the world to us.
Changing Hands Bookstore Gift Card Changing Hands Bookstore Gift Card Changing Hands Bookstore Gift Card

Cindy and I will thank you profusely with a hand-written note for this wonderful gift to us! You can’t imagine how it feels as owners to get your comments in our email inboxes and on social media, expressing your heartfelt gratitude for our magnificent staff and your kind thoughts for our well being.

I feel it’s more important than ever that we all stay connected—as a community and as readers. That’s why we’re looking into virtual readings, online storytime for kids, workshops you can “attend” on Zoom, and more. And since this Bookstories newsletter has grown since I first started it last month, I’m going to break it into two parts and send you book suggestions next week.

Thank you for your continued support. Truly. I speak for my employees, my partners, my leadership team, and my small business colleagues around the country when I suggest that, while we’re all staying home practicing social distancing, we make every effort to shop local websites rather than instantly clicking on Amazon. The locally owned businesses in our community need our support if they are to keep their employees on the payroll and reopen their stores and restaurants again for you when the coast is clear.
Gayle's Yard

Be safe, be well, read books, and take care of one another. I believe that it helps to think about things other than viruses. Things like rain, wildflowers, butterflies, hummingbirds, young children trying to catch bubbles at storytime, sisters, friends, cats, dogs, great meals, baking cookies with your grandson, our sweet Changing Hands employees, and a multitude of other good things to cherish and appreciate. Blessings to you all.


Questions or comments? Email Gayle at