Tips for Managing Cash Flow in a Crisis

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As independent booksellers navigate the COVID-19 crisis, here are some ideas for managing cash flow in a time when sales — whether in-person or online — may be inconsistent.


  • Talk to everyone you owe money to and ask for extensions and/or relief
  • Re-negotiate everything
  • Ask for help — free ads from regular media vendors, for example

General changes:

  • Lower your thermostat to save on heating (or raise it to save on cooling)
  • Organize and clean your store so you can get rid of paid offsite storage
  • Use payroll service hotlines, chamber of commerce human resources hotlines, or talk with customers/lawyers for free legal advice
  • Enroll in the FedEx Rewards program so you can earn gift cards that can be cashed out

Keep selling if possible:

  • Promote your e-commerce site
  • Offer free or inexpensive shipping, home delivery, or curbside pickup to encourage shopping on your site
  • If you don’t have an e-commerce site, sign up for ABA’s IndieLite e-commerce platform for free through May 31 and be up and running within a few days
  • Sign up as an affiliate and sell through Bookshop

Work with your publishers:

  • Call your publishing sales reps and ask for help, whether it’s for extended dating, a billing grace period, or the removal of a return cap. Publishers may be able to help on a case-by-case basis
  • See specific help that some publishers and wholesalers are offering here
  • Notify your publisher sales reps if your store is closed and not accepting inventory
  • Set up accounts with two wholesalers to ensure you have contingency plans in place

Calls to make:

  • Ask your landlord for rent relief or see if you can refinance your mortgage
  • Ask your phone company for a better rate
  • Cancel your fax line or other unused communication systems
  • Cancel your 800 number
  • Ask for a reduction in dues from local or national memberships
  • Modify your insurance plan (whether property, liability, or other) for lower monthly pay and higher deductibles

Consider credit cards:

  • Pay by credit card and get cash back
  • Ask your vendor to waive annual fees
  • Maximize cash discounts from vendors
  • Reset CAM base year to year with high expense
  • Shop your credit card processing company; in this highly competitive market, you may find someone less expensive or be able to leverage another offer to improve your rates with your current provider

Eliminate some services:

  • Free gift wrap
  • Bags
  • Print newsletters
  • Print advertising

Visit the COVID-19 Bookseller-to-Bookseller Forum on BookWeb to share tips with other booksellers.