As parts of the U.S. enforce statewide lockdowns to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, people have begun to wonder how they can support local businesses that might be threatened by the sudden lack of foot traffic. And one type of business that is very likely to be at risk? Indie bookstores.
The outlook for local indie bookstores has been on the rise in recent years, after spending some time in decline. That makes the threat of quarantine on their business even more insidious to avid readers and the booksellers themselves. After being nearly wiped out by chain bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Borders, and then again by Amazon's bookselling primacy, independent bookstores had finally regained some skin in the game as recently as 2019. Now, that comeback could be prematurely ended by the looming coronavirus pandemic.
Thankfully, there are ways you can support local bookstores, even if your local government has cracked down on nonessential businesses or you're practicing social distancing. Keep scrolling to find out how you can support your local bookstore while quarantining. From pre-ordering to getting a jump start on your holiday shopping.
Find Your Local Indie Bookstore
If you're reading this and thinking, I don't even know if there's an independent bookstore near me, don't worry! The American Booksellers Association's independent bookstore community, Indie Bound, has a tool to help you find local book retailers located anywhere within 10-400 miles of your home. Just enter your zip code you'll have names, physical addresses, and websites right at your disposal.
Shop Online Whenever Possible
Plenty of indie bookstores have websites that allow you to shop online, which might be the safest option during the novel coronavirus outbreak. If you're concerned about potentially lengthy shipping times, check out My Must Reads and Kobo, both of which offer eBook purchasing options that count as sales for your local bookstore.
Order by Phone
If your local bookstore doesn't have any online shopping options, try giving them a call to make sure that they're still open for business — as some shops may be closed, due to state restrictions or employee illness — and that they're amenable to taking orders over the phone.
Purchase eAudiobooks Online
Digital books and audiobooks don't require any human contact, so no one risks passing along or contracting any illnesses. Libro.fm allows you to link your eAudiobook purchases to your local indie bookstore, which means you're supporting a local business, even if they're closed due to the quarantine. And because your purchases on Libro.fm are yours to keep forever, you'll be able to continue listening once life goes back to normal.
Pre-order, Pre-order, Pre-order
Pre-ordering a book is one of the best things you can do for an author you love. It can help them negotiate bigger and better deals on future books, and it also lets bookstores know to order more copies of in-demand titles. Pre-ordering also helps your local indie bookstore by giving them the cover price of a book sooner, which can help keep them afloat in tough times.
Buy More Than Just Books
Bookstores don't just sell books. They also sell t-shirts, tote bags, bookmarks, coffee mugs, magnets, journals, socks... You name it. Regardless of how many books you intend to buy, you can and should order non-book items from your local indie bookstore.
Remember to Ask About Gift Cards
Gift cards are a great way to pay upfront for future shopping trips. You've bought yourself the present of future books, and you've given money to your friendly local bookstore. It's a win-win.
Buy Your Holiday Gifts in Advance
Speaking of buying presents for yourself, be sure to buy presents for other people, too. Books make great gifts, but if you're not sure what kinds of books your loved ones like, consider getting them a tote bag, some fun bookish socks, or a gift card. It's a great way to get your holiday shopping done in advance and keep the independent bookstore near you in business during the quarantine.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC or NHS 111 in the UK for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here, and UK-specific updates on coronavirus here.