Diary of a Bookseller

How to Support Your Local Indie Bookstore When Everyone’s Stuck at Home

Diary of a Bookseller #12

On Monday, per the guidance of our Pennsylvania governor and health department, we closed the doors of the bookstore to the public. While many stores are remaining open limited hours so that staff can receive books and fulfill web orders, our store is presently closed to customers and employees – we just didn’t feel comfortable continuing to interact with the outside world, even in a limited capacity.

We’ve gotten a number of emails from our customers asking us what they can do to support us at this time and their kindness and drive to support their local indie has been wonderfully overwhelming. While we’re not on hand to supply them with books directly, there are two ways to support your local indie, even if they’re closed.

For AUDIOBOOKS – Libro.fm

I’ve been a big audiobook fan ever since I first listened to Absolutely Normal Chaos in fifth grade at school. Then my mother got the Harry Potter audiobooks so she could listen to them in the car and understand what my sister, Moppy, and I were talking about. Though she still doesn’t know how quidditch is spelled, but knew Hermione’s proper name pronunciation. But I digress, back to Libro.fm! Hundreds of bookstores across the country are partners with Libro.fm – check out their websites for links, or search on Libro.fm for the store closest to you (and if you’re not sure on a store close to you, check out IndieBound, there’s a searchable map!). When you sign up for a membership, your chosen bookstore gets a cut and you get a credit for an audiobook every month (which they’ll also see a cut of), just like the major online retailer’s audiobook platform!

For PHYSICAL BOOKS – Bookshop

Bookshop is BRAND NEW to the book industry – when we indie booksellers in the US had our annual national conference at the end of January it still wasn’t live. It’s the brainchild of indie booksellers and gives back to indie booksellers and is meant as an eventual replacement to the clunky IndieBound. I’ve been including IndieBound links for years, but have begun to start promoting Bookshop as it also offers the books at a discount (5-25%) in an effort to help us indies compete against the chains and online retailers.

While these are presently the two best options for supporting your local independent bookstore in the US, if you’re jonesing for a book right now and you just can’t wait, I recommend checking to see if your library uses the Libby app for eBooks, or sign up for a free NetGalley or Edelweiss+ account! The latter two may require approval for eBooks from the publisher but they’ll usually give them to you if you promise a review. As a bookseller I have my own bookseller accounts with both, so I’m not an expert on how they work for general readers or bloggers. If anyone would like to share any insight into the best way to set up an account/get the books you want, please comment below!

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