To me one of the saddest economic aspects of the pandemic is the toll this has taken on independent bookstores. As I’m sure anyone who knows me knows, independent bookstores are one of the things I love most in this world. Keeping a bookstore afloat in New York City, or any city in this day and age, is a huge challenge, and this has just thrown a giant wrench into that effort. I’m saddened for the people who work at these stores who have been laid off because the stores operate on razor thin margins and simply can’t afford to continue paying their employees.
Of course I’m also selfishly sad for myself at the thought of losing these places that mean so much to me and others – that are a huge part of makes New York City special. You know that old quote about how a room without books has no soul – I can’t help but feel that a city with no bookshops has no soul. I’ve spend countless afternoons wandering favorite bookstores here in New York…hiding out from rain or snow or the intense summer sun…just enjoying the peace and quiet and delight in finding something new to read.
The idea of the independent bookshops of New York not being able to re-open after this pandemic makes me really sad, and I want to do everything I can to help them. Here are three ways you can support your own local bookstore or any bookstore of your choosing:
Instead of ordering from Amazon, check out Bookshop.org. It’s an easy, painless way to support your local independent bookshop or just indies in general. When you’re shopping on the site, you can either find your favorite bookshop specifically on there and all of the profit from your order will go to them, or you can shop without specifying a particular store and the profit will be evenly distributed among independent bookstores – even ones that don’t use bookshop.org! How great is that? And for any bloggers reading this, if you become an affiliate you earn 10% commission when you link to bookshop.org – not too shabby!
Libro.fm is literally the same exact thing as Audible (Amazon’s platform for audiobooks), only instead of your money going to Amazon, it goes to an independent bookstore of your choosing. How great is that?! It’s super easy. First, you simply download the Libro.fm app to your phone. Then, you go to the Libro.fm website and choose your favorite independent bookstore. Now your audiobook purchases will support them! You have two option for purchasing – you can buy audiobooks a la carte with no commitment, or you can become a monthly member. A membership costs $14.99/month, and you’ll receive one credit each month, which you use to buy an audiobook (the benefit of membership is you get audiobooks for about half the price). Once you buy your book, it will automatically download to the Libro.fm app on your phone, and you can start listening! So easy, and your money went to your favorite bookshop instead of Amazon. You can hold or cancel your membership at any time, and if you use up your credit and want more books in a month, you get a 30% discount on additional downloads. Credits never expire and even if you cancel your membership, you still get to keep your audiobooks.
And if you haven’t tried audiobooks in general, I strongly urge you to give them a shot. You can listen while you walk/commute (someday), while you cook, clean, exercise, do laundry…the list goes on. Listening to a book can add such a rich layer to the reading experience, especially because many of the readers are truly so amazingly talented. The Martian had me laughing out loud simply because of the deadpan delivery of the reader, and the narrator of Harry Potter did hundreds of accents and voices unique to each character! Often celebrities will read their own memoirs (I’m currently listening to Jessica Simpson’s on there), which can be fun, and some readers are actors or Broadway stars. I even wrote a post about why I love audiobooks here (way before I knew about Libro.fm though). I can’t recommend audiobooks or Libro.fm enough, and if you sign up here using my affiliate link you can get three audiobooks for the price of one!
Order directly from their website
The easiest option of all for supporting your favorite local bookstore – just visit their website! Most have an online ordering system set up (especially now), and the booksellers will be thrilled and more than happy to help you find any book you like, or offer a recommendation. So far during quarantine I’ve ordered from Three Lives, Rizzoli Bookstore, and McNally Jackson. The great thing too is that if they don’t have a book in stock, they can order it from the warehouse. All of my books arrived promptly and Three Lives was even able to get me hardcover versions of backlist books, which I super appreciated!
I hope that today, on World Book Day, you’ll take a moment to order a book from an independent bookstore or make the switch to Libro.fm from Audible. Bookstores need all the help they can get during this trying time, and I hope we can all “vote” with our wallets and do everything we can to help them make it through the other side of the pandemic stronger than ever!