Countless independent bookstores around the world have been forced to temporarily or permanently shutter due to COVID-19. Granted, indie bookstores are nothing if not creative, dreaming up alternate revenue sources from curbside delivery to curated book care packages featuring titles handpicked by booksellers based on customers’ reading preferences. But the bulk of many bookshops’ revenue does inevitably come from in-person sales at brick-and-mortar locations, and even a brief closure means stores need writers’ support now more than ever. Here are eight guaranteed ways to help your local indie bookstore stay afloat. (Need help finding an indie bookstore near you? Try BookstoreLink.com.)
1. Order books online.
Even if the shop isn’t open to the public, most stores can either ship from in-store stock or straight from the warehouse. Some offer discounted or free shipping if the store cannot open to the public.
2. Pre-order books, too.
Already have your eye on a book coming out later this summer or fall? Pre-ordering it puts cash in a bookseller’s hand now as opposed to later. Pre-order sales also help titles build buzz in the publishing industry and on bestseller lists, so you’ll support your favorite bookstore and your favorite authors at the same time.
3. Don’t forget about audiobooks.
Think all audiobook sales need to come from the great and powerful (and Amazon-owned) Audible? Not so: Libro.fm allows indie booksellers to sell audiobooks to consumers easily. Casual listeners will want to opt for a one-time purchase, while audiobook enthusiasts should look into Libro.fm’s monthly membership program.
4. EBook sales count, too.
If your local indie partners with Kobo, a percentage of every eBook you buy on Kobo’s website, apps, or devices goes straight to the bookstore.
5. Think outside the bookshelf.
Many indie bookstores sell puzzles, games, toys, or other products that help any time spent inside pass a little quicker.
6. Treat your future self with gift cards.
Give your future nonquarantined self a present by buying a gift certificate now. Your cash will support the store when it needs it most, and you’ll revel in the pleasure of a bag full of brand-new books come fall.
7. Donate to booksellers.
Unfortunately, closures often mean layoffs for bookstore employees. Support them by donating to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (bincfoundation.org) or researching GoFundMes, PayPals, or similar fundraising efforts for your local store. Powell’s Books’ local union, for example, is accepting donations at ilwulocal5.com, and many stores have set up similar digital donation websites for their workers or stores.
8. Spread the word.
Read widely and recommend books to others. Share links to online bookstores or fundraising ideas. Retweet/repost messages from your local indies for your followers. Not all support is cash-driven: Many people are looking for books to read and/or ways to help, and you can absolutely be the voice who directs them to the stores you love.