I live in a small town in Maine. Until recently, our community of only 10,000 people boasted three local bookstores – a cozy book shop café, a well-stocked general bookstore, and a used book exchange. Now we’re down to two. A little over a week ago the mainstay bookstore on Main Street permanently closed its doors. I loved admiring their beautiful window display of hardcover books on my daily walks; now the barren windows and deserted shelves break my heart. The empty storefront seems to be a small reflection of the loss surrounding all of us during this difficult time. The note taped to the front door thanks the town for 16 great years and encourages patrons to support the bookstore down the road because, as the sign reads, “Local bookstores are important!”
The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging small towns and big cities in ways we couldn’t have imagined. The crisis is hurting local businesses, all businesses really, including independent bookstores. Local bookstores add life and vibrancy to the communties they serve, but tend to operate with thin margins. They are hoping to weather the storm, but many, like my treasured Sherman’s Books of Camden, will not.
As we stay at home to keep our families and neighbors safe, let's also band together as a community of book clubs to support the local bookstores we know and love. They need us now more than ever. Here’s a guide on where to start.
Turn to Reading and Shop Local if you can
All caught up on Tiger King? Good. Now read a book! There is only so much Netflix binging we can take. Use this time to snuggle up with a few good books and let reading be a necessary escape. Even before the days of quarantine, books served as a way to travel, to discover a world beyond our own. Shop local, but let books take you some place new.
Your local bookstore may be closed to foot traffic, but it is very likely setting up innovative ways to serve your community. Call them! Or go to their website. Some bookstores are now taking online orders or arranging pickup and delivery. Several have launched fundraising campaigns. Chip in if you're able, and make it your mission to start your quarantine book shopping as close to home as you can. Buy books or bookstore gift certificates for yourself, your kids, your elderly neighbors.
If you are looking for the closest bookstore to you, try Bookstorelink.com. It’s a new service from our friends at Libro.fm. Pick a book, pick a bookstore close to you, and Bookstore link will connect you. 100% of the proceeds go to the local bookstore.
Listen Up! Libro.fm Brings you Audiobooks with Heart
If you haven’t started reading via audiobook, now is a great time to start. Libro.fm is an audiobook network that supports local bookstores – in fact they let you buy audiobooks directly through your local bookstore. Bookclubz has long partnered with Libro.fm so that Bookclubz users can get three audiobooks for the price of one during their first month of membership. You can sign up here to learn more about their mission and start listening.
Recently, Libro.fm put together a list of audiobooks that will give 100% of proceeds to local book stores. Learn more about #shopbookstoresnow here: https://blog.libro.fm/shopbookstoresnow-final/
Attention Online Shoppers: Try Bookshop.org
It is ok to buy books online when you must. Your local bookstore may be closed or it may not be safe for you to go out for pick up. Or, maybe you have a book club deadline and you have to download an e-book. It is ok! Adding books to your Amazon or Apple Books cart supports authors and helps you keep reading.
But, did you know that there is a new game in town? Bookshop.org allows you to support local bookstores when you buy online, and we’re really excited about what they are building. Bookclubz recently created our shop:
We listed our top books and book of the month picks, but through our store you can search for any book. When you purchase from our shop, Bookclubz receives 10% of the sale AND participating local bookstores receive 10-25%.
We are grateful for our fellow readers, book clubs, and book websites working together to support the local bookstore ecosystem – and each other.