Special report by Isabella Jewell.

IN the midst of a pandemic, we’re all having to adapt to a different way of life.

Information is changing at a rate of knots, and we are all facing the prospect of months of self-isolation to try to slow the spread of this coronavirus.

When confronted with endless free time and anxiety-inducing statistics, what could be more joyful than a good book?

Read also: Residents in Oxford wake up to police tape across the road

After all, reading can be the ultimate escape, and now a handful of independent bookshops in Oxfordshire are fighting against the odds to keep people reading.

Abingdon’s Mostly Books, The Book House in Thame, and Wallingford Bookshop are just three doing their utmost to maintain business despite the increase in self-isolation.

Mostly Books was quick to respond to the virus pandemic by offering free delivery to all addresses within a five-mile radius, a scheme which it introduced early last week.

Oxford Mail:

After the Prime Minister’s speech on Monday night, owner Sarah Dennis updated the policy and is now posting all books ordered online for a £3 charge.

She said: “We are having to think about alternative ways to get books into the hands of readers; social media has been hugely important in getting our message out to people.”

Similar strategies are being adopted by other bookshops in the county to keep readers’ bookshelves well-stocked.

Oxford Mail:

The Book House in Thame is taking telephone and online orders which the team will post free of charge.

Owner Brian Pattinson said he was committed to fulfilling orders even after closing the doors to customers.

He said: “We are doing all we can to help people get access to books.

Oxford Mail:

“The Book House has a large collection of children’s books, so we are happy to advise parents on what books are a good replacement for schoolbooks.”

Given that this crisis could continue for months, many bookshops are getting creative, planning projects to combat boredom for those stuck at home.

Read also: Coronavirus – the live blog for Oxfordshire

Wallingford Bookshop owner Ali Jinks provided a list of ideas that her team have been planning, from creating a virtual bookshop to a podcast and book review tweets, determined not to let Covid-19 ruin their imagination.

And, while Wallingford Bookshop has been focusing on free book deliveries for the past week, and now postal orders, it does plan to bring some of its new ideas to life very soon.

Oxford Mail:

Ms Jinks described the fast pace of the situation: “We’ve taken a breath, had a massive cup of tea, and are moving forward.”

All three independent bookshops have reported that business is going well, with Mostly Books describing ‘a major increase in spending per person’.

Oxford Mail:

Book House owner Brian Pattinson said his business was ‘busier than before the outbreak’, with Hillary Mantel’s massive trilogy about the court of Henry VIII in particular flying off the shelves after the release of third book The Mirror & the Light this month.

With customers seemingly using their new-found spare time to take on chunkier novels, it could be the perfect time to finally tackle War and Peace.

These book shops are just a few of the local independent businesses the Oxford Mail is backing with our #StillopeninOxfordshire campaign.

If you know of another business we should be covering, email news@oxfordmail.co.uk.

Oxford Mail: