Valerie Koehler, the owner of Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, said she went to BookExpo in person for 20 consecutive years, and she credited the networking she’s done there as a big part of her store’s success. This year, she especially missed meeting with “the small guys, independent publishers,” she said, or companies offering products like games or stationery.

But she’s well-versed in what the biggest publishers are doing because, being in a major metropolitan area, she knows field representatives for all of them. She said the opportunity for publishers to extend outreach efforts online was an important one.

  • Updated June 5, 2020

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?

      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

“I think they’re going to make a lot of information more available all the time, instead of waiting until people get to New York to talk,” she said. “This is a way to reach out to people who don’t go to BookExpo or don’t talk to field reps on a regular basis. They can bring a lot of programming to a lot more people than can afford the airfare, the hotel and all that goes with it.”

Ramiro Salazar, the director of the San Antonio Public Library, said that he received “quite a bit of positive feedback” about his panel, and that conducting the expo virtually spoke to “what I think the future holds for all of us.”

He added: “This virus has changed the environment. Libraries are expected to continue to impact communities in a very real way. We have to figure out how we can do it digitally. Virtual experiences are going to dominate our way of doing things. I’m not saying it’s going to replace; at some point, I see libraries being what they used to be, but not anytime soon.”

The same goes for book fairs. The London Book Fair was canceled in early March, less than a week before it was scheduled to begin. The Paris Book Fair (March), PEN America’s World Voices Festival in New York (May) and the Edinburgh Book Festival (August) have also been canceled. The Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany, a major date on the industry’s calendar, is still “set to take place” in October, according to its website, but HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Bloomsbury and the French arm of Hachette have all said they would not be sending staff to the event because of safety concerns.

Martin acknowledged that even if the Javits is open for business next year, things will look different. “I don’t think any part of what we used to do is going to be ‘rinse and repeat’ for the future,” Martin said. “What’s happened will change us as a people, and if anyone thinks we’re going to go ‘back to normal’ and everything will be as it was, they’re kidding themselves.”

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