While bookstores around the country have had to close their doors due to the coronavirus, many have shifted their focus to online sales.
According to the IndieCommerce team, browsers on indie bookstore websites are more likely to purchase a book online than ever before, making it more important than ever to drive customers to indie bookstore websites.
Here are some of the ways stores are boosting their business online:
Hosting Virtual Events
- Madison Street Books has launched a virtual event series, streamed on Facebook Live, called “Mad Street Mixers.” During the event, authors, booksellers, and reps are invited to have a drink and talk books. Here is a recording of the April 16 event. The store has also started a reading challenge for the remainder of the year.
- Tattered Cover in Denver, Colorado, has a full calendar of virtual events, including live streams with authors, live concerts, educational webinars, and writing workshops.
- Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., has an FAQ that addresses how to attend virtual events, including clearly explaining to customers how they can purchase the book from your store.
- Stores are also capitalizing on the popularity of virtual events in different ways. Green Apple Books in San Francisco, California, is offering custom Zoom backgrounds.
Recreating the Browsing Experience Online
- A number of bookstores, including Changing Hands in Phoenix and Tempe, Arizona, and Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, New Hampshire, and other retailers have offered customers the opportunity to FaceTime with staff to “shop” or get recommendations.
- McNally Jackson in New York City has customized the books appearing on its homepage to reflect current needs. Categories include cozy reads, the literature of solitude, books to make you laugh, books to escape to another place, and more.
- The Novel Neighbor in Webster Groves, Missouri, has posted a variety of videos on social media to stay connected to customers. One video covered puzzles customers can order from the store.
Partnering With Authors
- Landmark Books in Franklin, Tennessee, drew in over $50,000 in sales with the help of a bestselling author’s tweet.
- Author Amy Gentry publicized a rent increase at BookWoman in Austin, Texas, on Facebook, which brought owner Susan Post orders and legal advice.
Communicating With Customers
- Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has posted an FAQ page to its website to keep customers in the loop about all things coronavirus-related.
- Old Town Books in Alexandria, Virginia, is showing appreciation to its customers by including hand-written notes with online orders.
- Firestorm Books & Coffee in Asheville, North Carolina, is including “signature flair” with web orders, such as a hand-stamped package and a zine.
- Among other stores, Books are Magic in Brooklyn, New York, has a note on its homepage noting that the store is currently overwhelmed with orders, and that customers should expect delays.
Sharing Their Store’s Story and Struggles
- Booksellers currently fundraising should share their store’s history and current challenges on their website to give customers an idea of their store’s value to the community. City Lights in San Francisco did so here.