5 Ways to Help Independent Bookstores During the Coronavirus Crisis

Justin Sullivan, iStock via Getty Images
Justin Sullivan, iStock via Getty Images / Justin Sullivan, iStock via Getty Images

Independent bookstores are among the many businesses feeling the impact of the novel coronavirus crisis. While independent stores definitely have a place in their communities, high overhead costs and competition with bigger retailers means indie booksellers are especially vulnerable during a time where businesses are being forced to close their doors. Even if you're stuck inside for the foreseeable future, here are some ways you can support your local bookstores while staying safe.

1. Order books from independent bookstores.

Many people are looking for activities they can do at home, and that includes reading. If you're stocking up on books to get you through quarantine, be mindful of where you purchase them from. Your money will go much farther at an independent bookstore. If your favorite store doesn't do online orders and deliveries, do some research until you find a local shop that does. To help you get started, here are some great options in all 50 states.

2. Purchase a gift card.

If you can't visit your local bookstore to show your support in person, now's a great opportunity to buy a gift card. The purchase will provide cash to the business at a critical time, and when it's safe to go shopping again, you'll be able to treat yourself to a new book. Visit the website of an independent bookstore in your community to see if they're selling gift cards online.

3. Buy merchandise.

Books aren't the only items you can get from your neighborhood bookstore. If your home library is already fully stocked, browse the online shops of indie booksellers for literary swag. Sooner or later, you'll have an opportunity to show off your new t-shirts and tote bags.

4. Donate to a relief fund.

The most direct way to help indie bookstores at this time is to make a monetary donation. Your local bookshop may already have an online relief fund set up to support its business and laid-off employees during the novel coronavirus crisis. The Book Industry Charitable Foundation is currently accepting donations for booksellers facing a range of issues related to COVID-19, including rent, utility bills, medical expenses, and unexpected loss of income.

5. Download audiobooks from librO.fm.

Prefer audiobooks to physical copies? You can still use your purchasing power to help small businesses. The audiobook platform libro.fm is currently donating 100 percent of first sales from new members to independent bookstores. With the code SHOPBOOKSTORESNOW, you can sign up today and get two downloads for the price of one book.