MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) - A Madison bookstore has created a unique drive-through of sorts after closing their shop due to coronavirus.

As we search for ways to stay entertained at home, many of us are using our phones, TVs and computers. However, the co-owners of The Book Deal came up with a creative idea to offer another option.

They decided to close the store last week. “We really thought it would be a tough decision [to close],” said co-owner Jimbo Jacobs. “But with everything going on it just felt like the right thing to do.”

They came up with an idea to take the online sales format they do on Facebook, and use it to support Madison readers after the store’s doors technically closed.

The co-owners chose, photographed, and posted about some mystery/suspense/thriller books on their Facebook page. “We made a album of about 250 pictures of different books,” Jacobs said. People would claim dibs on the books they wanted, then the owners would send them an invoice. Customers could pay online, then all they had to do was pull into The Book Deal parking lot.

They had bags filled with each customer’s books, plus some alcohol wipes. Most of the books are used, and although many have been in the store long before the coronavirus outbreak, you can’t be too careful.

As customers pull up near the front door, an owner will come out with their books, set them in the car, and send them on their way. “We’ve been using the N-95 masks to help from air particles spreading, as well as using new gloves every time that we do a new drop-off,” Jacobs said.

The photos were posted to Facebook on Thursday, then customers could come pick up their books during a four-hour window Saturday or Sunday. “Within a day we had over 300 books that people had claimed.”

While people look for ways to stay entertained without screens, The Book Deal owners hope they can help. “There’s something special about being able to have a book in your hand.”

“It’s not a screen, it’s something physical that you can touch and feel and smell,” Jacobs said. “We joke about Book Sniffers Anonymous, everyone loves the smell of the lignin in old books as it changes from the chemicals and stuff.”

They plan to do another sale this week, maybe this time focusing on books for kids.

Owners of The Book Deal have also started an effort to get books to kids in need while schools are shut down. You can learn more about that here.

Other Wisconsin bookstores have started similar services. Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee is now offering curbside pickup. Honest Dog in Bayfield, along with Boswell and Book Deal, are also encouraging people to buy online.