7 Ways to Support Independent Bookstores

The American Booksellers Association reported Amazon doubled its net profit during 2020. During this same year, an average of 1 independent bookstore went out of business each week since the country shut down due to COVID-19.

Where we shop matters. Here are 7 ways you can use your purchasing power and voice to support bookstores.

1. Buy tote bags, mugs, clothing, and other merchandise

Although it may seem counter-intuitive to buy something other than books from independent bookstores, an easy way to spread the word about your favorite local shop without adding to the already massive pile of unread books on your shelf is to buy other merchandise. 

Fun sweatshirts, comfy t-shirts with an independent bookstore’s logo, mugs with quotes, and stylish tote bags are all popular options at local stores. Even buying small things like notebooks and stationary at indie stores instead of lumping the items in with your next Target run is a step in the right direction. 

2. Visit your bookstore’s online store

You don’t have to wait until it’s safe to go outside without wearing masks to browse bookshelves. COVID-19 has pushed the vast majority of small businesses to branch out into having online components, so the odds of your local independent bookstore having new services or a comprehensive website are at an all-time high.

Curbside pickup and browsing services are trending among indie bookstores. Check out this list from Publishers Lunch to see what stores near you are delivering.

3. Find new indie bookstores to support on IndieBound

If you want to support local bookstores but don’t already have a close tie to a business near you, there are quickly accessible resources to help you get connected.

IndieBound makes shopping at small businesses and finding new favorite places to support all too easy. You can search for bookstores near you here.

4. Buy gift cards

Whether you’re waiting for a special edition to be released or feeling iffy on making a purchase for yourself just yet, consider buying a gift card or two from a local bookstore.

When you buy gift cards, small businesses receive an immediate cash flow, and you or your loved ones have incentive to return to the store at a later point in time. Gift cards are great presents for upcoming holidays, and they can make any occasion special. Gift cards truly are the gift that keeps on giving.

5. Check out virtual events

One of the best — and free — ways to support independent bookstores is participating in virtual events hosted by bookstores. These events take the place of workshops, book clubs, author readings, and other in-store events.

Not only will participating help you stay connected with your local bookstore, but you may also receive a discount or benefit from a specific promotion tied with the event.

6. Use Libro.fm for audiobooks and Kobo for ebooks

Another way you can avoid supporting Amazon and instead back independent bookstores is by going to Libro.fm for your audiobook needs. A whopping 100% of your first month’s membership price will be donated to the independent bookstore of your choice. For every $50 you spend on Libro.fm, $14.99 out of the sale goes to your bookstore of choice. Check out Libro.fm here.

Instead of buying ebooks from Amazon, try out Kobo. Independent bookstores use Kobo to sell ebooks. When you set up an account through a link provided from your bookstore, the store receives part of the sale. You can visit Kobo’s website here.

7. Share their content on social media

An entirely free option to support your local bookstore is using your voice to boost small businesses’s visibility on social media. Whether you follow your bookstore on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, your recommendation to your social network has an impact.

Each opportunity we take to support local businesses adds up. If we want the future to have incredible independent bookstores, we have an obligation to take action now.

Have any questions about how you can make an impact? Drop a comment below.

– Cassidy

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Filed under Advice, COVID-19

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