how to save a bookstore
Over the past few weeks (Has it really only been a few weeks?), the rapid pace of virus-induced changes to how we live, work, shop, and even eat has been a whirlwind, even a bit disorienting. When this weird new reality of “distancing” and staying home and temporary business closures started to set in, I became increasingly worried about our favorite local restaurants, shops, and bookstores. How would they survive without customers, without sales? Would people resort to online behemoth retailers and never look back?
But the local restaurant and shop owners, as small-business owners and entrepreneurs do, quickly got creative.
Gift cards. Carry-out. Curbside pickup. Brand-new online store fronts.
Want to help an independent bookstore or two (or more) survive this strange era?
Here’s what you can do.
First, get in touch with your own local bookshop(s). Don’t have one? Or would you prefer to spread the love? Perhaps you’ll find a new favorite bookshop in a town you’ve always wanted to visit.
For a bit of inspiration, browse the list of Novel Cat favorites. We’ve visited more than a dozen bookstores in ten different cities, scattered across seven states. And we’re still adding to the list (based on 2019 visits, to be sure; we’re staying home right now!).
When you find one that looks promising, check out their website. Many shops now offer online ordering and will ship your new book(s) to you, even if that’s not a service they offered as recently as last month.
If you are fortunate to have a brick-and-mortar indie bookstore close by, or if you find one that you’d like to visit in the future, buy gift cards from them and redeem them when you can browse and buy in person. Or give the gift cards themselves as gifts.
One other online option that helps more than just a single bookshop is to buy your new stay-at-home reading material from Bookshop.org, which showcases a wide variety of book lists and suggestions, hosts online storefronts for both indie bookshops and other bookish groups, and pledges to give a hefty percentage of proceeds to all of its brick-and-mortar member bookstores. During the current crisis, they’ve even upped that percentage.
No matter which approach you choose, let’s do all we can to keep our favorite local, independent bookstores alive and thriving!
Full disclosure: The Novel Cat is a Bookshop.org affiliate. You can find our storefront and some of our favorite books at Bookshop.org/shop/TheNovelCat. If you buy a book directly from our storefront on the site, we’ll receive a small percentage of the sale. And that same amount also goes to the site’s member bookstores as well.