Independent Bookstores and Local Shops


Worried about your local independent bookstore surviving the shelter-in-place orders, curfews, and social distancing of the COVID-19 pandemic?

[art by Jonathan Wolstenholme]

David Velleman (Johns Hopkins) suggests that people consider buying books from—and listing their own books on— Bookshop.org. He writes:

This site enables independent bookstores to set up their own sites within the bookshop.org domain, with all fulfillment functions performed by a third party; and in addition to the returns the bookstores earn from their bookshop.org sites, they share in a pool of returns earned by the central site. If your book its not yet available on bookshop.org, you can become an affiliate and list the book on your own sales site. You will then earn a share of the sales, but if you already link to your books on Amazon from your personal home page, you can switch those links to bookshop.org and format them in such a way that the earnings will go to your local independent bookstore instead, if they are also affiliates. (The format is https://bookshop.org/a/xxxx/yyyyyyyyyyyyy where xxxx is the bookshop.org affiliate number of the store and yyyyyyyyyyyyy is the ISBN-13 number of the book.)

As for other shops and restaurants, in addition to patronizing them now in their modified forms—many restaurants have switched to takeout only, and many shops are offering at least curbside (drive-up) service—one suggestion is to purchase gift certificates now for use later. If you can’t get in touch with the shops or restaurants directly about this, they may be making use of Kabbage, a service through which businesses can sell gift certificates online and anyone can purchase them.

I understand how it can seem silly to worry about the possible permanent closure of your favorite local shops and restaurants owing to a disease that may kill millions, but keep in mind that if these businesses close for good, that means employers and owners lose their livelihoods, and people become more vulnerable.

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