How to Help Independent Bookstores



It’s weird times, isn’t it? I don’t know if you’re like me, but I’m torn between wanting to support the local economy and save every dime we can in case things go completely sideways. My husband and I still have our full-time jobs (so far). However, Bright Side made the tough but smart choice to lay off all the booksellers to both reduce their costs and to make it easier for the full-timers to apply for unemployment (instead of a very reduced schedule and income). It was also in anticipation of official quarantine mandates for social isolation. Luckily, we are getting lots of love with our completely new sales model of curb-side pick up and online sales, and they have determined a need to bring a couple of us back on a very part-time basis to fulfill the orders.

So, how can you help keep the literary bedrock of your own or other communities? Here are a wide variety of suggestions. 

Before I get there, I do want to get onto my political soapbox for a very brief moment.  Please, please, please avoid buying (at least media) from Amazon. First of all, Jeff Bezos is already profiting in ridiculous ways from this situation as more and more people rely on internet purchasing and delivery. He is doing this without providing safe and equitable working conditions for his employees. To put it into perspective, Jeff Bezos could purchase 1 ventilator with the amount he makes in less than 30 seconds. (Hint: he’s not). On a more practical level, books are not a priority for shipping right now for Amazon. I’ll stop there, but you can certainly do your own internet research on what the richest man in the world is doing (or not doing) during this crisis.

Onto the good stuff!

Try Libro.FM for Audio Books

Are you an audio book person? Use this link and the code SHOPBOOKSTORESNOW to get 2 audiobooks for the price of 1 ($14.99) in your first month of Libro.FM. Right now,this code will give 100% of your purchase to their fundraising effort for bookstores. Again, a small indie company trying to give you an alternative to Amazon/Audible. Cori genuinely loves it!!! A portion of your  audiobook purchase will always go to your designated bookstore. This specific link benefits Brightside. Feel free to see if your local indie is a partner and make them your designated store. Currently, they have also increased the percentage that goes back to their indie partners.

Buy Through Through Local’s Online Stores

See what kind of purchasing options are being offered by your local or another favorite indie bookstore. Many locals have raced to create an online platform in order to keep serving their customers. Check to see the details, but some offer both store pick up as well as direct to home. Which leads me to my next suggestion.

Try Bookshop.org

This AMAZING newcomer organization is actually trying to create a non-profit alternative to the online giant. Membership bookstores get a percentage of quarterly profits as well as any sales generated through their link. Pssst… they typically offer a small discount on books, too. So, if you don’t have a local bookstore to support, this is the perfect alternative. Additionally, you may discover this is the online platform your local is using! Full disclosure, Kyrie and Cori’s book links will now send you here as we have joined their affiliate program. It’s a double win, as we get a little and so do local indie bookstores. Here is our link to check out how they support indies and maybe buy something!

Buy a Gift Card

Whether it is for yourself or someone else, this provides immediate cash flow to the store. Think of it as a short-term loan!

Buy Gifts

Got a lot of free time on your hands and not feeling a budget crunch? How about you get a lot of your 2020 gift shopping done now! Think about birthdays, holidays (Mother’s Day is coming up!), etc. Actually, this would be a wonderful approach to take with ANY of your local stores. Your local bookstore probably has a ton of non-book related items and would be happy to do a phone consultation with you. However, spread your love out and support those other local stores that are struggling.

Pre-order a Book

Is there something you know that is coming out later this summer or fall? Go ahead and buy it NOW! That helps your bookstore, and well, the whole publishing chain in general. Sometimes, bookstores will even offer a small discount for pre-ordering. For example, Bright Side will give customers 10% off if they pre-order a title that has not released yet.

Make a Donation to BINC

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation exists to help booksellers impacted by financial emergencies. As you can imagine, they are facing unprecedented numbers of applications from furloughed booksellers affected by COVID-19. A tax-deductible donation would be a great way to provide general support.

Even better, Libro.FM is doing a fundraiser. Buy one of these awesome pairs of socks. All profits raised are going to BINC! I’m totes buying a pair!

Bookstore Fundraising

This link provides a fairly thorough list of bookstores that are actively fundraising to help them through this economic crisis.

Be Chatty

Engage with your local’s social media. Like and share their posts. Share the information far and wide with friends and family that this is a great way to buy and support local right now, includig this post! Post what you are reading and hopefully be able to share that you bought it from your local. 

Be a Local Activist

If you are really motivated, get in touch with your local and state governments. Do they have plans to support small businesses during this quarantine and recession? If they do not, shouldn’t they? Politicians talk a big game about small business being the backbone of the economy but almost never actually put any money into that backbone. (Publishers Weekly)

There’s An App For That

In true 21st century style, an app called Save Your Bookstore has been recently created that relies on crowdsourcing to add bookstores and the various ways you can support them.

Do you have other ideas? Share in the comments!


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