First-year master's student Derek Wolter browses a book at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore on Woodlawn Avenue. Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago

HYDE PARK — The Seminary Co-op book stores will offer free domestic shipping on all orders through April 15 to help give people a way to keep reading amid the coronavirus spread, according to director Jeff Deutsch.

The nonprofit oversees the Seminary Co-Op Bookstore, 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave., which focuses on academic texts, and 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th St., which has a wider selection of novels and fiction. It has operated in Hyde Park since 1961.

He said staffers have “exponentially increased our cleaning” of the stores as they follow local, state and federal guidelines and instructions from their landlord, the University of Chicago, to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The brick-and-mortar shops will remain open for now, though all author events have been canceled “for the foreseeable future,” Deutsch said.

“The stores have been as busy as normal,” Deutsch said. “But no one knows what’s going to happen day-to-day. We’re expecting [attendance] will start to drop off.”

With precautions being taken worldwide, everyone can expect “a tremendous amount of loneliness, concern and desire for reflection on what matters in life,” Deutsch said. Reading can be a helpful way of dealing with those emotions.

Social distancing doesn’t mean we are no longer human,” Deutsch said. “There’s a need for history and information and ideas, and books have always been the best technology for that.”

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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