Seventeen days ago, the governor of my state ordered all non-essential businesses to close, and life as we knew it came screeching to a standstill.
Since then, my husband and I have been trying to come up with ways to support our local community. Some background: we live in a very rural area. The population of our town has been hovering around the 1200 mark since about 1832.
The nearest grocery store is 35 minutes in any given direction, and chain restaurants and conglomerates are Not Welcome. Most of the people who live here are either retired, work from home, or for a small, local business. Those small businesses are what drive the economy. Mom and Pop shops. General stores.
In an effort to keep them afloat, the community is turning out in a big way. And it is incredible to witness.
But whether you live on the edge of civilization, like we do, or in a major metropolis, chances are, there’s someone nearby selling books.
So how do we keep them afloat during a global crisis? Here in the U.S., it’s become clear that it’s up to everyday people to do something. The government bailout for small businesses is already out of money.
In researching this for ourselves, we’ve discovered several ways to help, and I thought I would compile a list for my fellow bookworms.
1. Find Your People
There are several smaller booksellers in my local area, but what about the next county over? How can I try to support them when I don’t even know they exist?
Don’t see your favorite bookstore there? Find their contact info and tell them about those sites. Moving to digital sales and online shopping is a great way for them to stay afloat while we ride out this pandemic.
2. Go Virtual
Thanks so social distancing and the threat of contracting a potentially deadly disease, it’s understandable if your local bookseller would rather stay inside than drive back and forth to the Post Office.
Instead of purchasing physical copies of books, focus on digital options.
If you have an e-reader, a computer, or a smartphone, you can switch from Amazon to Libro (for audiobooks) or Kobo (for ebooks). Both of these services offer ways for readers to make digital purchases through their local bookstores.
3. Get Creative
Most bookstores sell more than just books. They supply all of the accessories a bookworm could dream of.
Lord knows that my husband and I are forever misplacing our bookmarks. Also, my fancy reading light that clips onto my book and keeps me going long into the night (when I should be sleeping – JUST ONE MORE PAGE!) is on its last legs.
Replacing these things through our local bookpusher is a win-win situation.
4. Give A Gift
I know that the holidays are a long way off, but there isn’t any time like the present to get a jump on your gift shopping list.
Pre-order that hyped thriller for the mystery-addict in your life. Or the swoon-worthy romance you know a friend would just love.
Most bookstores offer gift certificates if you think your loved ones would prefer to shop for themselves.
When all else fails, make it rain. We were at the hardware store the other day, and after purchasing some essentials, we wrote a hundred dollar check.
It doesn’t have to be some huge sum, whatever you can afford could make a difference.
And if you’re short on cash, think about doing an unhaul and donating your secondhand books. Most independent booksellers have a “Used” section, and once they re-open, they can profit from your kindness.