The title kind of says it all right? Support Independent Bookstores. Please.
Okay, taking a step back, I understand this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. I’m going to dive into a few strategies you can use to make it easier. But it’s never going to be as simple as buying on Amazon. Period. They make shopping wildly simple for a reason. It’s their business!
Shopping With Your Conscience
Some things that you buy are agnostic to the sellers. Goods like lamps or paper clips or nails. There’s little difference between one vendor and another, so shopping for them should be entirely about price and convenience.
Books are different (as are a bunch of other products). You know this already, but I’m going to say it again anyway. A book takes hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of work, dedication, and frustration from at least the author, if not a team of designers and marketers. When you buy a book, you’re supporting every person and every step of the process.
Part of that includes who you buy from.
Get Bestsellers From Bookstores
I recently got an email from Goodreads letting me know that N.K. Jemisin’s new book was available. And if you clicked that link, you’ll see the big ‘Kindle Store’ link right there. But I can also get the same book from my local bookstore. In fact, I can get the Kobo edition from Quail Ridge Books for the same price as on Kindle. When the choice is between getting my book from a local store or a massive, global retailer, I don’t really think there’s much of a choice.
Not only do the authors see a better return for each sale, but you’re also putting money into the bookstores that matter the most. You don’t need to specifically shop locally either. There are countless online booksellers like Powells that are independent but still offer shipping to a range of locations.
So when you need that newest bestseller, remember to think of independent booksellers first.
Get Your Audiobook Fix
Listening to books has become ubiquitous with reading. The convenience makes it easier for us to devour more stories and often less expensive than buying a printed copy. Plus, if you’re like me and you’re bookshelves are literally buckling under the weight of all the books you’ve bought, an audiobook here and there might be necessary.
So how can you support independent (audio) bookstores? I like Libro.fm, an audiobook website that partners directly with your favorite bookstores. Check out their site and look at the options they have for listening. Libro lets you decide between purchasing each audiobook as you go or through a monthly subscription. It’s really cool and if you’re into audiobooks, you really should check out Libro.fm.
Support All Bookstores With BINC
If you stopped on that header and said to yourself, “what’s a BINC?”, well, you’re not alone. BINC is the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (I assume BIC was already taken). They accept donations and manage the money, then when booksellers are in need, they help them!
Just look at their testimonials for a sample of the amazing work BINC does. In particular, they help with unforeseen medical expenses for booksellers, the kinds of expenses that could easily crush smaller bookstores.
Built on a foundation that started with ill-fated Borders, BINC outlasted them and continues to provide for booksellers all over the USA. So if you can spare a little and want to support independent bookstores and the people who operate them, definitely consider BINC.
Gift A Book
I’ve gotten some flak around the holidays because I always give books. For me, it’s a challenge. How do I pick out a book for that relative who doesn’t read? I love it. And I think it’s important that everyone, even reluctant readers, have books in their lives.
If you feel the same way, buy books for the people you care about! Hell, buy books for your enemies too!
Giving books is another awesome way to support your local bookstore or to support a faraway independent bookstore.
Or, if your to-be-read pile is too big to add to, you could always gift yourself; with a gift certificate from your favorite bookstore!
Shop The Lulu Bookstore
I have to give Lulu a plug because they are paying my salary. But really, our bookstore is 100% populated with independent authors. And we run coupons weekly (check the home page while signed in) to make their books even more affordable. Note that those coupons come out of Lulu’s pocket, the authors still earn exactly as much as they intended when they set up their pricing.
So while you should absolutely buy your traditionally published books from your local or independent online retailers, when you go looking for something self-published, think about the Lulu Bookstore. We offer the best revenue sharing in the industry and our print quality is above and beyond anyone else’s (my completely unbiased opinion).
Keep Bookstores In Business
Even if you don’t shop with Lulu, I implore you to buy from independent bookstores, favoring your local shops whenever you can. I’d like to end with this often-cited quote from author Neil Gaiman:
What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.
He couldn’t be more right. Bookstores are the heart of a place, the history, and the wisdom. But they only stay open with your support.