BERNALILLO, N.M. (KRQE) – People are still being encouraged to stay home and social distance, and it’s causing a lot of them to find new hobbies. As a result, a couple of local book stores say people seem to be taking bigger interest in reading.

Countless books fill the shelves of Under Charlie’s Covers in Bernalillo. Lara Harrison, the owner of the gently used book store, says they have at least 40,000 books in the store. Harrison opened her bookstore over a decade ago. She says E-Books have caused business to suffer a little, but this year she’s seeing a surprising trend.

“I think there’s a lot of people coming back to actually having a paper book in their hand,” said Harrison. She says her book sales are up compared to this time last year. She’s not the only one seeing that increase. Dorothy Scrivner, the owner of Menaul Book Exchange in Albuquerque, says her sales are up about 25% too.

Both Harrison and Scrivner say with nothing to do and nowhere to go, people are counting on books to escape reality. “They need something to take their minds off of what’s going on,” said Scrivner.

Harrison says she’s noticed a lot of interest in books related to pandemics, social justice issues, and educational books for kids. “Libraries are closed, or they have limited access, and a lot of kids don’t have access to books right now because they’re not in school,” said Harrison.

Albuquerque Public Libraries are not seeing an increase in the number of books being borrowed, they say that’s because of their limited hours. They say they are seeing an increase in circulation of E-Books.

Both book store owners say they’re taking extra precautions to keep their customers safe from COVID, including disinfecting the books, limiting the number of people in the buildings, and offering curbside pickup.