Indie Booksellers Promote Shopping Local During Coronavirus Outbreak

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Booksellers across the country have begun encouraging customers to continue shopping local, whether in-person or online, as the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) continues to spread.

Josh Cook from Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts, delivered a thread on Twitter illustrating how to support one’s local bookstore when no one is leaving the house. Suggestions included signing up for a store’s newsletter, following it on social media, pre-ordering books, purchasing audiobooks, buying a gift card, donating to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, and more.

“As people practice social distancing to protect themselves, their instinct is to shop chain stores for ‘one stop shopping’ in lieu of their favorite bookstores, hardware stores, or other independent businesses,” said American Booksellers Association CEO Allison Hill. “If your store has an e-commerce site, remind customers that they can shop with you online and that you appreciate their support right now. Partnering with a local delivery service may be another option to help serve customers who don’t feel comfortable coming into your store right now.

“I’m always reminded at times like these how important it is that we walk the talk and make sure that we’re all supporting other indie businesses,” Hill added. “Check in with other indies in your area and see how you can cross-promote each other’s businesses, support one another, and work together to raise community awareness about the critical need to support local businesses right now.”

Booksellers with e-commerce sites, including IndieCommerce and IndieLite, can promote their sites as an alternative to leaving the house to make purchases. Booksellers can learn more about ABA’s e-commerce options here.

Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary & Garden Arts in Berkeley, California, wrote to customers, “If you find yourself holed up at home for any reason, remember that you can always order from us online or over the phone, and that we can deliver same day in the Elmwood or ship virtually anywhere. Curbside delivery is also an option: just call us and we’ll pop out to the parking lot with your purchase.”

East Bay Booksellers thanked customers for their support “in good times and bad,” noting, “We can’t do any of this without you.” The store also directed customers to its website to order books in the event of quarantine.

At Skylight Books in Los Angeles, the store announced it would continue its events schedule as planned, but noted that for in-store events, it would be spacing chairs further apart, having authors pre-sign books for customers who don’t want to wait in line in person, or sending signed books to customers who cannot or do not want to attend events. Skylight also records its events for its podcast.

Stories Bookshop & Storytelling Lab in Brooklyn, New York, wrote in a recent newsletter, “This will be a challenging season, a good season to read in bed, a tricky time to be a brick + mortar shop. Local businesses will be hit hard by coronavirus. We ask that you consider supporting the indies in your hearts + routines any way you can. And please let us know how we can better support you.”

As ABA continues to monitor the outbreak, booksellers are invited to visit a new page on that details event updates, general information about the outbreak, and resources for retailers.