Belletrist Book Club Highlights Indie Bookstores on Instagram and Beyond

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Belletrist, the online book club curated by actress Emma Roberts and her best friend Karah Preiss, is inviting indie bookstores that want to be featured as their Bookstore of the Month to reach out to them on Instagram.

Belletrist logoBelletrist features a different book and a different favorite independent bookstore every month, both chosen by Roberts and Preiss, two friends who grew up shopping in indie bookstores and who first started Belletrist in March 2017 as a book club on Instagram.

“We have always been huge fans of indie bookstores because we do most of our book shopping at indies, and indies for us in our friendship are our primary place of gathering,” said Preiss. “So we wanted to do some sort of spotlight feature on different indie bookstores around the country. We noticed that when you share or talk about indies people go crazy. They love to see photos of indies, they love to see the booksellers, they love to see different bookstores in different cities around the world, so there is obviously this thirst for the discussion.”

Belletrist featured two nonfiction books for the month of July: Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by Alice Bolin (William Morrow) and Godspeed, a memoir by Casey Legler (Atria). July’s bookstore of the month was Twenty Stories, a bookmobile founded in Los Angeles with plans to open a brick-and-mortar store in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, later this year. The August Book(s) and Bookstore of the Month will be announced on Tuesday, August 7.

Belletrist founders Karah Preiss and Emma Roberts
Belletrist founders Karah Preiss and Emma Roberts

“We get more requests for indies where people should go in different cities,” said Preiss, “and I think it’s different than just Googling what’s around. I think people want very specific recommendations. We were looking for a more organic way to do affiliate linking for the books that we choose for the month and so we had the idea to partner with a bookstore each month that would be our indie of the month.”

To celebrate the Bookstore of the Month, Belletrist posts information about the bookstore on their website along with interviews with the owner or other booksellers, and in some cases will do Instagram Live sessions with booksellers.

“On top of that, when we announce our Book or Books of the Month we announce a promo code that our followers can use to shop the book at the Bookstore of the Month. The promo code can be applied to any purchase at that store online for that month. We blast this out on Facebook and in our e-mail newsletter...We’ve already done it with a number of bookstores,” said Preiss. “It’s really cool because people from different cities will order their book from a bookstore in Michigan or someone from San Bernardino will order a book from a bookstore in upstate New York. It’s really worked out. I think part of it is that most everybody who follows us really wants to support indies when they can.”

Independent bookstores that would like to apply to be Belletrist’s Bookstore of the Month as well as stores that would like to partner with Belletrist for an event should reach out by direct message on Instagram; Preiss said they would like to start doing more events for Belletrist readers at local indie bookstores around the country. 

“We’d also like to be able to promote as many book events as possible on Belletrist, even if they are not Belletrist book events,” added Preiss.

Belletrist also links to IndieBound in their Instagram stories so that readers will use the site to locate an area bookstore or purchase the Book of the Month and other books recommended by the founders and Belletrist readers. Booksellers that would like to link to their own website in their Instagram stories should note that only verified Instagram users (those with 10,000 or more followers) can do so.