You believe in strong communities and the power of books. Nice to meet you! So do we.
When you shop at independent bookstores, you are voting for the world you want to live in. That world is rich with independent businesses and vibrant communities. It's a place where you can meet authors locally and spend a few hours tucked in the sanctuary of a diverse collection of books; where you can shop confidently knowing that your purchase puts dollars back into your community; a world that celebrates and financially supports the authors and publishers who write and publish the books that inspire you.
Here's the best way to celebrate and directly support independent bookstores.
1. Shop at independent bookstores first
If you are concerned about price, know that independent bookstores do not mark up books. They sell them at the publisher's suggested retail price. Read this now-legendary tweet by Danny Caine, owner of Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas educating everyone on how book pricing works.
2. Shop at Bookshop.org second
Founded in January 2020, Bookshop.org is "a corporation dedicated to the public good" (technically, a that's called a "B-corp"). It's an online book sales platform that gives about 75% of its profit back to the book industry. We are celebrating Bookshop for giving socially conscious digital outlets a place to link to book sales (these affiliates earn money back), and for giving small bookstores without websites an opportunity to sell books. But if your favorite bookstore already offers online sales, make your online purchases there. It's like ordering your dinner directly from the restaurant rather than from Door Dash, which keeps a portion of that restaurant's sale. When you do shop at Bookshop, use their map to link your sale to a bookstore and they’ll receive the full profit off your order. (If you don't link your Bookshop sale to a store, your order contributes to an earnings pool that will be evenly distributed among independent bookstores. Still good!)
3. Never buy books on Amazon
To Amazon, books are hostages. They use them as "loss leaders," dramatically discounting books way under the publisher's suggested resale price, which creates an attractive place to go buy other stuff at high profit margins. This business model directly jeopardizes the financial health of the book industry. If that's not enough, Jeff Bezos is the richest man on earth and why make him wealthier? Experience how vast his wealth is via this interactive infographic.
4. Place pre-orders for forthcoming books via an indie bookstore
The best thing you can do to support a new book you're looking forward to reading is pre-order it before it is published via an indie bookstore. It supports the author, the publisher, and the bookstore and indicates which books consumers want to buy. It's like voting in the primary! this Lifehacker story describes all the real benefits.
5. Buy audiobooks via Libro.fm
Libro.fm makes it possible for readers to buy audiobooks from their local, independent bookstore of choice. As a "Social Purpose Corporation," they're committed to doing all they can do to get more people reading. Create an an account and choose your favorite indie to support.
Amazon does not have a monopoly on e-books. Skip the Kindle, which only lets you read content you bought on Amazon, for a different e-reader, and then you are free to purchase wherever you'd like. The two options for supporting local independent bookstores via your e-book purchases are Hummingbird Digital Media and Kobo.
7. Demonstrate your values
So many bookstores sell cool merch that celebrates the indies. Bonfire curates a fun list, which we love. Scoop up some merch at your favorite independent bookstore and become a walking beacon of fine taste and inspiring values.
Sing it with us...
Midwest Independent Booksellers Association
1375 Saint Anthony Ave, Suite 202-3
St. Paul MN 55104
Carrie Obry, Executive Director
Kate Scott, Program Specialist
© 2021 Midwest Independent Booksellers Association