So many of us are staying at home to help limit the spread of COVID-19, and a lot of our to-read book piles are slowly shrinking. Quarantine is very important for flattening the curve, but it’s definitely rough on local bookshops, which must remain closed to the public in Minnesota for now. Since libraries are closed, too, we no longer have to feel guilty about buying so many books we could have borrowed. (Just me?)
Right now, Twin Cities booksellers are adapting to the constantly changing situation, working to stay afloat and serve loyal customers while ensuring the health and safety of everyone. Which is no small task. After browsing through their websites, here are a few tips for supporting them:
- Buy books from their websites: maybe you have been looking forward to it, or maybe you just miss browsing bookstore shelves for the title you didn’t know you had to have, or maybe you’re a tsundoku devotee. Either way, you can feel good about the purchase. The indie shops need the orders; Jeff B., not so much.
- If you can’t find a book on their websites or want a recommendation, call or email them — after all, who doesn’t need a little more human interaction right now? Even millennials might pick up the phone! Especially for used books, it’s likely not everything will be listed online.
- Buy gift cards — whether for future use once we can return to “normal” life or as presents to make sure your friends and family are buying from indie book stores.
- Engage from afar: Watch their social media accounts for live readings and book discussions that are now online.
- For audiobooks, use Libro.fm, an independent platform gives proceeds to the local bookstore(s) of your choosing. Right now, the website is donating all proceeds for every one-month gift membership to your chosen bookstore(s).
- If buying over phone or email makes you anxious, you are having trouble finding a title, or there’s some other reason, buy books from Bookshop.org. This new independent platform gives about 75% of profits to local bookshops across the U.S. and keeps a running tally on its homepage of how much it has raised. (Some of the shops below now use Bookshop.org, which is still in its beta version, as their e-comm platform.)
Below is a non-definitive list of bookstores in the Twin Cities that are still filling web, email, and phone orders right now. Please remember this can change, and I’m sure I missed some that should be included. My intent is to help people spread the love around and also see which locations you didn’t know about or haven’t visited. Maybe when this all ends — and it will end, rest assured — we’ll see each other at one of the locations for a reading, book club, or just to browse.