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Bozeman bookstore survives and thrives after pandemic

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Posted at 5:00 PM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-09 17:53:59-04

BOZEMAN — After quarantine, lockdowns, all amidst a pandemic, plenty of people were hungry for connection; if not in person, then through literature. According to the Association of American Publishers, in 2020 book trade sales in the country grew 9.7 percent.

“We were closed for a bit of time…I was lucky, I had previously managed the largest used bookstore in Canada, and I had built a lot of their online marketplace,” Medellee Antonioli said, “So when the pandemic hit here in town, I was lucky enough to have 20,000 books online.”

“The book hasn’t really ever gone anywhere, they’ve said that the book is going to die since infinity. It’s still here because it’s amazing and it’s incredible and it’s beautiful, and it’s an object of beauty and subject…and it’s passion on a page.”

Antonioli is the owner of Isle of Books off of Huffine Lane in Bozeman and purchased the business in June of 2019. Prior to the pandemic, events were scheduled, expansions were prepped, and hopes were high. Once the lockdown ensued, Antonioli offered ‘book pick-up’ options for people, as well as an online method of purchase.

“I can’t believe I get to do this, I am fifth-generation Montanan and I am so of this land and of this place, and to do what I love here is still inconceivable to me. So, initially, I was nervous but Montana, the community, came together,” Antonioli said.

Customers stopping in to purchase gift cards for themselves, picking up books, and doing what they can to aid Isle of Books: Montanans being Montanans, Antonioli said. Like many businesses, Isle of Books went through the trials of Covid-19, but the online sales helped bridge those gaps.

“It helped pay our bills, and having that diverse customer base floated us through,” Antonioli said. “We still offer ‘drive-up pick-up’ for those that are still cautious right now, and we are happy to accommodate.”

As of late, Antonioli has seen a younger demographic of customers visit her store, college-aged and teenagers. Usually, purchasing classical books and literature.

“I do think exhaustion with technology, exhaustion with staring at screens, has guided people back to reading,” Antonioli said, “The book hasn’t really ever gone anywhere, they’ve said that the book is going to die since infinity. It’s still here because it’s amazing and it’s incredible and it’s beautiful, and it’s an object of beauty and subject…and it’s passion on a page.”