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Love Independent Book Stores? Support Them Saturday at the #VirtualBookstoreParty 

April 23, 2020 | Small business
Love Independent Book Stores? Support Them Saturday at the #VirtualBookstoreParty , CDC Small Business

Independent book sellers, like record stores and local newspapers, have taken on challenge after challenge in the digital era.

The small businesses that made it through this sea change did so by adapting. They adopted new models to keep customers coming back for more.

Resilient booksellers have had to put those skills into play yet again in the face of COVID-19. That’s just one reason to support them as they join in a #VirtualBookstoreParty on Saturday. 

That’s to take the place of Independent Bookstore Day (it’s usually the last Saturday of each April). This year, it’s been postponed until Aug. 29 due to the coronavirus.

But there’s more reasons too. It’s World Book Day on Thursday, so that might bring a book to mind that you’d like to purchase, so why not from an independent bookseller? Many of them are online after all, as is true for so many small businesses, and those operations are sustaining them.

Beyond the #VirtualBookStoreParty

Some of these stores have nurtured decades-long relationships with clients and authors, and have reputations that reach far beyond their communities. For instance, Powell’s in Portland, OR. is renowned. Others, including Warwick’s in La Jolla, Book Soup in West Hollywood, Marcus Books in Oakland and the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ., have both popular stores and online presences.

They also have famous fans. Best-selling author James Patterson pledged $500,000 to help stores get back on their feet post-coronavirus. Malcolm Gladwell and Tayari Jones also have stepped up to make their pitch for independents. 

These small business owners have new venues to support them too. 

  • Bookshop bills itself as an “an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores.” Bookshop works by giving customers the option to choose an individual local book store to support or to have the proceeds of their purchase go towards an “earnings pool” that supports all indie booksellers. Employees can create accounts too with affiliate links so they also gain from sales via Bookshop. 
  • libro.fm plays a similar role for supporters of independent bookstores who favor audio books. 

So, during this time when your help matters even more, keep tabs on your favorite bookstores. They may be hosting virtual author talks or book release parties, children’s reading hours and more.

More ways to support indie book stores

  • Remember that all of the current shopping rules apply to bookstores too. Though owners have had to alter their operations, most are finding alternative means of serving customers, offering online sales, gift certificates and curbside pick-up.
  • Take part in the #VirtualBookParty Saturday through your favorite local book seller’s social media, or just track the hashtag to see a variety of exclusives, chats with authors and more.
  • If you’re a part of a book club, remind your members to #shopsmall and support a community bookseller.
  • Watch trendsetters. For instance, some are compiling book recommendations online. Former First Lady Michelle Obama began a children’s reading hour on PBS Kids Monday. The weekly series continues through May 11. The next book, if you want your kids to read along – “There’s a Dragon in Your Book.”
  • Let LitHub be a guide, as the site compiled many unique ways booksellers are responding to COVID-19 store closures – from setting up master classes with authors to providing cozy delivery packages complete with books, socks and puzzles.

Gladwell said independent bookstores are “the best, most fun and most interesting places to buy books.” Join in the fun Saturday by showing your support for these small businesses as you #shopsmall.


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