In today’s changing state of the world, many of us are adjusting to new routines of increased social distancing and turning to comforts (romance books anyone?) to help us navigate uncertain times. As a result of a sudden and mass shift to working from home and/or staying at home, it has become evident just how many businesses depend on daily foot traffic to keep the doors open. Whether it’s your local deli or coffee shop, many places depend on in-person purchases more than online ones. Independent bookstores or indies, are no exception as they are often run by, cater to, and depend on their local communities, word-or-mouth, and events to generate sales. Many of us who love our local independent bookstores and enjoy frequent trips to these book-filled happy places might be wondering what we can do to help out. If you’re in a position to do so and are wondering how to support your local indie bookstores from your home, here are some suggestions you can try out.
1. Order books online from your local Independent bookstore.
Many bookstores are selling books for pick-up or delivery, so you don’t have to leave your home to still enjoy some reading material! Why not stock up on some stay-at-home reading material and support your local indies at the same time? Some bookstores are even offering special bundles of books or free or reduced shipping as well, so go for it! You can get that book you’ve been wanting to read for a while and feel good about helping out your local indie bookstore too! Besides who doesn’t love getting books in the mail?
2. Purchase audiobooks or eBooks from your local Independent bookstore.
If your local Indie does not deliver to where you live or you prefer reading books in different formats, why not try purchasing audiobooks or eBooks instead? Many independent bookstores have affiliations with third party vendors that allow you to purchase audiobooks and eBooks directly from your local independent bookstore. Check out your local bookstore’s website or give them a call to see if this is an option for you. Audiobooks are also the perfect way to enjoy books together with others (especially the young readers in your life), or while doing chores or other activities around the house.
3. Purchase a gift card to redeem at a later date.
How does this help? It allows indie bookstores to make use of your money now and lets you treat yourself at a later point! Why not a gift card for yourself to redeem on your next birthday (or soon, that’s fine too) Looking for gift ideas for others? Independent bookstore gift cards can also be a great gift for your bookish friend or family if you cannot celebrate a birthday or other special occasion with them in person. Many bookstores have the option to purchase egift cards which makes it super easy too!
4. Pre-order a book through your local Independent Bookstore.
Excited about a book that’s coming out soon? Why not pre-order it from your local bookstore and have it shipped to you or ready for pick up the day it comes out? Pre-ordering books helps both your favorite author and your local independent bookstores. Authors and bookstores alike benefit from early purchases of new releases and events like signings, book tours and readings which take place at local bookstores and tend to generate a lot of sales. Many of these in-person events might be cancelled or rescheduled for now but lots of early exposure for a new book can be especially important for new authors.
5. Leave a review and sign up the newsletter.
Lastly, I understand that not everyone is in a financial position to support business at the moment. There are definitely ways to support indie bookstores that do not involve purchasing books or spending money. Many indie bookstores depend on exposure and word-of-mouth for new people to come across them. Leaving a review online can be a big help in driving traffic towards an independent bookstore. Sharing bookstores’ posts and promotions on social media is also a great way to increase exposure and help out. Another cash-free way to support is to sign up for the bookstores newsletter which will keep you up to date with the happenings at your local Independent bookstore and might include additional ways in which patrons can support the bookstore.
Bonus: Donate to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc)
This is extra-credit, but if you want to support booksellers across the nation, not just those who work at your local independent bookstore, who may be facing financial hardship due to decreased business a good way to do so is by donating to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (or Binc). Binc was created to support booksellers to cover necessities during times of financial stress and have been working overtime to assist booksellers in recent times. Chipping in what you can will guarantee that you are assisting booksellers throughout the country.
Of course, anytime is a great time to support your local Independent bookstore, but during uncertain times is when we most seek and need community, and local independent bookstores are often at the heart of local bookish communities by building relationships with their communities, hosting authors and of course, providing great book recommendations. While not all of these options might be possible for everyone financially or geographically depending on your local and personal circumstances, if you can and are inclined, there are many ways we can still enjoy our local independent bookstores and our local bookish communities from our houses.