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For the Love of Books! Support Your Local Independent Bookstore This Holiday Season

Here's how to do it.

Around 750.9 million print books were sold in the US in 2020—an increase of 8.2% from 2019. However, Amazon took a major share of these sales and independent bookstores were hit hard by pandemic-induced lockdowns. Independent bookstores adapted to their new realities. They hosted Instagram and Facebook live sessions, offered curbside pickups, and started selling online. Yet, more than one bookstore closed every week last year. Now, the supply-chain disruptions are adding to the woes of independent bookshops that need holiday sales to survive.

Local bookstores are a meeting place for the community. Go to a bookseller, have a conversation about your interests, and they will have a personalized recommendation for you–something that even the sophisticated Amazon algorithm is not capable of. It’s a place where authors come for signings, children have storybook reading sessions, and you find a sense of comfort and belonging with a steaming cup of coffee, a couch, and a newly-discovered book. Also, there’s less carbon footprint and your dollars go directly back to your community—these are reasons enough to make you rethink your next Walmart or Amazon purchase. 

This holiday season, you can support your independent bookstore—and your community of readers—in a number of ways. Here are a few.

Find Indie Bookstores

Do you already have a favorite indie bookshop close to your house? Skip to the next point. This is for those who may have lost a bookshop due to the pandemic or haven’t found The One yet. IndieBound, an initiative of the American Booksellers Association, helps you find an indie bookstore close to you with this finder. Just enter your pin code and they’ll open the doors to wondrous shops within 10 and 100 miles of you. also has a similar tool.

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You can also bookmark this list of Black-owned bookstores in the U.S. and stop by one of them in your city.

Buy Local

Bookstores are a place of discovery. The staff is always happy to help you find a treasure to cherish, but the prices are often more attractive online. You have to know that Amazon can afford to make losses on books—they have other products for markups and a huge inventory—but your local bookshop can’t afford to match those prices. They have bills, overhead, salaries, rent and utilities, and marketing costs. As a small business, they need the profits they make. Think about that before you drop the book to order something from Amazon. If you can afford to buy a book from the local bookstore, consider those extra dollars as an investment into your local community that needs your business. 

This Christmas, shift your focus to books for your friends and family. Go to the bookstore and tell them what your parents, siblings, friends, and colleagues like. They can help you find the perfect gift. During the holiday season, there will also be plenty of cutesy socks, bookmarks, totes, and other merch to choose from—these have bigger profit margins for bookstores and can be unique gifts to book lovers.

If you’re ordering online, browse the titles at Started in 2020, it’s an online bookstore that gives 10% of regular sales to independent bookstores and 30% of sales to affiliate stores who don’t have to store inventory, ship, or handle complaints and returns.

Interested in audiobooks instead? Check out It’s an online audiobook service—an alternative to Audible—that supports independent bookstores. You can buy individual books or get a membership and a portion of sales will go to the indie bookstore of your choice.  

Pre-Order Books

Know if an author you love is releasing a new book? Pre-order your copy (or copies) at your indie bookstore. Not only are you supporting an author you admire, but you’re also letting your bookshop know they need to get more copies of the book. It is immensely helpful to stores when you pay in advance, especially during these times when they’re doubly impacted by e-commerce giants and supply-chain issues. Please be patient if your copy is delayed—small, independent bookstores don’t have the same resources as a tech giant.

Sign Up for Newsletters

Another way to support them is to show up. Sign up for their newsletter, engage with them on social media, talk about the indie bookshop with your friends and neighbors, know when they are having book signings and events, and spread the word if they need help. 

Buy Subscriptions & Gift Cards

Book subscriptions are a great way to diversify your to-read list and find new perspectives. Some subscriptions send a surprise book every month depending on the genre, theme, or age you selected, while others let you pick from options. Check if the bookstore near you has such a service. Some of the good ones are Page 1 Books by the eponymous Illinois-based bookstore, the Book HookUp by Strand in New York, Indiespensable by Portland’s Powell’s Books, and The Book Drop by Delaware bookstore Bethany Beach Books. There are many others that help the community in different ways.

What do you think makes the perfectly-sized stocking stuffer? Gift cards! Get one from an independent bookstore the receiver is most likely to shop at and give them a future supply of books and merch. If not, you can buy a digital gift card at also has the option of gifting subscriptions

Make Donations

You don’t have to buy anything to give back. Ask your favorite bookstores about donations and make one in the name of your family of book lovers. What would be a more socially- and environmentally-conscious way of keeping a business afloat? 

dd2ski2b December 22, 2021

I don't understand how 10 folks from your street driving to their favorite book store is more environmentally friendly than one Amazon truck (possibly electric) delivering a book to each of 10 folks on your street.