Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

By Karen Williams

Showing support for independent bookstores is a noble cause, and a common way to do so is to simply visit the bookstore itself. But you can show support from home, too. Whether your goal is to avoid the crowds or get to know a bookstore outside your region, there are several ways you can support your favorite bookstore virtually.

Buy books from online storefronts.

Now more than ever, your favorite independent bookstores need your business. Many bookstores have the ability to sell books online for home delivery. Or, local stores may have a curbside delivery option where you can browse online and then drive by for pickup.  

If your local store doesn’t have an online shop or you’re interested in browsing elsewhere, check out Bookshop.org, an ecommerce site with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. Booksellers, authors, and literary publishers (like this site) affiliated with Bookshop earn commissions on sales. Additionally, 10% of regular sales are added to a fund that is evenly divided and distributed to independent bookstores every six months. The site launched in January 2020 and by June had contributed more than $3 million to bookstores! 

Purchase gift cards.

If you’re not in the market for new books right now, consider buying gift cards from indie booksellers for the future. You can always use them at a later date, or give them to the book lovers in your life for them to use as they please.  

Buy audiobooks.

If you prefer to listen to your books, check out Libro.fm, an audiobook service where you can purchase directly from the independent bookstore of your choice. Libro has partnered with hundreds of bookstores across the county. If you don’t see your favorite store on the list, just contact Libro and they’ll be happy to work with your store to get started selling audiobooks.

Tag your favorite location in social media posts.

Subscribe to your bookstore’s email list. Many stores offer coupons and deals for their email subscribers to use. When you follow their social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, you are also showing your support to your friends and followers. Share what makes your favorite store special, and use hashtags like #bookstore, #books, #reading or #bookworm so that other readers can discover the store you love.

Leave a review.

Spend a few minutes writing a review on Google, Yelp, or Tripadvisor. Not only do positive reviews help your favorite bookstore get exposure online, they also give potential customers the chance to learn more about your favorite spot. It’s a win for everyone!

Attend a virtual event.

Many bookshops are offering virtual events that you can attend from the comfort of your home. Participating in online book clubs, workshops, and author readings is a great opportunity to support your indie store with your presence.

Make a donation.

If your indie store is a non-profit organization, contact them to see if you can donate to show your support. Or, consider supporting bookstore owners with a donation to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, an organization that helps independent booksellers and their families facing financial hardship.

Even in thriving economic times, independent bookstores face challenges. Competition with larger retailers, small profit margins, and overhead costs present an uphill battle for the bookstores we love. Any small step you can take to support your bookstore virtually can make a huge difference. What can you do today to show your love for independent bookstores?