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7 indie bookstores offering creative solutions to stay afloat despite COVID-19 closures

From bicycle delivery to "Boredom Survival Book Kits," these indies are busy thinking outside the brick-and-mortar box.

7 indie bookstores offering creative solutions to stay afloat despite COVID-19 closures. This illustration shows a cloud-shaped bookshelf poised above a computer mouse and keyboard, indicating online bookstore sales.
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1. Old Town Books’ Virtual Writing Classes

Old Town Books in Alexandria, VA, is offering virtual pay-what-you-can writing classes and Q&A sessions with authors over the next few weeks. National Book Award winner Susan Choi will answer reader questions on April 10 and bestselling author Jenny Offill will teach on erasure poetry and flash fiction on April 16.


2. Caveat Emptor Used Books’ bicycle courier service

Who says you need a car to do deliveries? Caveat Emptor Used Books, a used bookstore in Bloomington, IN, recently announced a new bicycle courier service that will deliver books right to customers’ doorsteps – and with a low ecological footprint to boot. The store also offers personalized “Book Lover Care Packages” containing hand-selected books sold at discounted rates.



3. Honest Dog Books’ “Surprise Me” option

Visit Honest Dog Books’ online store, answer a few questions (“Fiction or nonfiction? Crying or laughing?”), and the staff of this Bayfield, WI-based bookstore will select and ship a book just for you.



4. The Book Hive’s Lucky Dip

Feeling lucky? Gamble on a mystery paperback selected by the staff of this Norwich, UK shop – the only criteria is that at least one staff member has read the book and will vouch for it. The Book Hive is also offering self-isolation reading kits containing five books in a given theme as well as “Book Explorer” activity packs, which include a children’s book, an activity sheet, and a badge to show off once the activities are completed.



5. Lemuria Books’ T-Rex Curbside Delivery

Many bookstores are still offering curbside delivery these days. Still, we haven’t seen anyone do it quite like Lemuria Books in Jackson, MS. Author Angie Thomas posted a Twitter video of a Lemuria staff member shuffling out to the curb in a giant dinosaur costume, clutching a bag of purchased books with tiny T-rex arms.



6. Book Rack Used Books’ Boredom Survival Book Kits

Beat boredom and support indie bookstores at the same time with Peoria, IL’s Book Rack Used Books & Gifts. Simply select your child’s age (from 0-3 to 14+) and describe their favorite topics to read about and you’ll receive 2 to 6 titles, depending on if the books are new, used, or a combination of both. No kids? No fear: There’s an adult option for the kits as well.



7. WordsWorth Books’ Private Browsing Appointments

Book lovers near Little Rock, AR can book a “private browsing” appointment at WordsWorth Books, where one customer at a time can sign up for a 30-minute timeslot to browse the empty store at their leisure.