Looking to support independent bookstores during the pandemic? Here’s how to make your purchases most impactful for your local indie.
Order Directly from Bookstore’s Website
You can support your bookstore with cold hard cash, and there are a number of ways to spend these dollars at your favorite indie bookstores. Perhaps most obviously, books are the perfect go-to item to buy at your favorite indie bookstore. If you aren’t ready to buy your next book, you can still buy a gift card, which provides immediate cash flow for the bookstore. Many bookstores sell gift cards on their online websites, making this a good option if you aren’t able to make it inside the store. The same goes for pre-ordering books at your local bookstore. Plus, both gift cards and pre-orders make great winter holiday gifts!
Most bookstores also sell gift items, such as greeting cards, candles, journals, games, and novelty gifts. You might be able to knock out some of your holiday shopping at your local bookstore. In light of COVID-19, many bookstores are offering curbside pickup for customers this year. Consider searching the web or calling your bookstore to see if they offer this option.
Have a webstore? If so, shop directly on their website. Purchase branded merch, gift cards, and search for in-stock titles. Shopping specifically for in-stock titles or gift cards means the booksellers working in the store can just pluck your order off the shelf, bag it up, and have it ready for you as soon as possible.
Buy eBooks and Audiobooks
Did you know that you can still shop local when purchasing digital copies of your upcoming reads? To purchase audiobooks, check out libro.fm, a one-stop-shop for audiobooks that sends money directly to your chosen bookstore. You can choose from more than 150,000 audiobooks with a monthly membership or pay-as-you-go options. (Insider tip: If you’re currently listening to audiobooks using Amazon’s Audible, use this link for information on how to receive two audiobooks for the price of one when you switch over to libro.fm.)
If you like to read eBooks, try kobo.com. If your bookstore has a partnership with Kobo, you can buy books directly through your bookstore’s online store. If you plan to buy a lot of eBooks, you can save yourself some time by creating a Kobo account through your independent bookstore. By linking your Kobo account to your preferred bookstore, you won’t need to take the time to navigate to the bookstore’s website.
If you prefer to shop online, check out Bookshop, an online bookstore that supports independent bookstores. When you select a specific bookstore at checkout, 100% of the proceeds will support your preferred bookstore. If you don’t select a specific bookstore, your order will contribute to an earnings pool that will be distributed evenly among independent bookstores. With either Bookshop checkout option, you are keeping the independent bookstore scene alive!
Similar to Bookshop, IndieBound allows customers to enter a zip code to direct profits to their local community bookstores. You can also opt-out of including a zip code, which will place your sale into a pool of money that supports the entire network of independent bookstores.
Attend Virtual Events
In addition to buying books, you can support your local bookstore by connecting with its community through events and social media. Many bookstores are hosting online events in place of their traditional in-person book signings and workshops. Consider browsing your local bookstore’s events calendar and scheduling a time to attend and connect with the community. These virtual opportunities allow bookstores to continue growing their networks and connecting book lovers, even during restrictions on in-person gatherings.
Follow on Social Media
Following your favorite bookstore on social media is a free, easy way to show your support. (And who doesn’t want reading recommendations and literary news in their social media feed?) You can take your social media support one step further by tagging your bookstore when you post about new books or attend virtual events to introduce the store to your followers.
Donate Using GoFundMe
If you’d like to support a specific local bookstore, check to see if they have a GoFundMe campaign. Publisher’s Weekly is maintaining a list of bookstores that are raising emergency funds through GoFundMe here.
Lauren has been a professional writer and editor for more than 10 years. After graduating from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, she focused on magazine and book editing, and continues to write for publications on a range of topics, including travel, music, food and wind. Her obsessions include vinyl records, the ocean, scotch-tastings, a mean guitar solo, and the feeling of a physical book in her hands – ironic, since she has 400 on her bookshelves and is allergic to paper.