It may seem odd to have your local public library giving tips about where to buy books. But if there’s one thing librarians understand, it’s the urge to own your favorite books and have a copy on hand to give (or force on) your friends and family so you can share what you love.
However, while stay-at-home orders and social distancing are good for you and your community during this pandemic, they can make shopping a little tricky. Amazon is the easy answer, but there are ways to support small businesses and have a stack of books delivered directly to your front door. The next time you want to buy a book (or 10), consider these alternatives to shopping on Amazon.
1. Try an indie bookstore—or look for a new one
Having to suddenly close a few months ago threw all small businesses for a loop, but countless independent bookstores either already had an online store or have gotten one up and running. Some local options include The Book Stall in Winnetka, Bookends & Beginnings in Evanston, or The Book Cellar in Chicago (among many, many more). Then there are bookstores that support a cause, like Women & Children First in Andersonville with its feminist and kid focused collection and Semicolon Bookstore in Chicago, which is the area’s only black woman-owned bookstore.
2. Don’t have a favorite indie? There’s always Bookshop.org
A brand-new site, referred to by the Chicago Tribune as “the Rebel Alliance to Amazon’s Empire,” Bookshop.org aims to be a convenient way to browse for books online that also allows consumers to support indie bookstores with their purchases. You can select a specific store to shop, in which case they receive full profit off of your order. Otherwise, your purchase will contribute to Bookshop.org’s earning pool, which is evenly distributed among independent bookstores. Read more about how it works.
3. Get your audiobook fix at Libro.fm
Don’t think I’ve forgotten about you, my audiobook fans. For a long time, if you wanted to own a copy of your favorite audio as a digital download, your only real option was Audible, which owned by Amazon. However, now you have the option of shopping on Libro.fm.
Much like Bookshop.org, Libro.fm allows you to support your indie bookstore of choice. When you sign up for a Libro.fm account, you can select the bookstore you want to support and Libro.fm will contribute part of every audiobook purchase you make to your bookstore. Just like Audible, audiobooks from Libro.fm can be purchased as one-time buys or on a monthly subscription plan. Purchased audiobooks can be streamed or downloaded to a device and played via the Libro.fm app with no restrictions (all Libro audiobooks are available DRM-free).
And there you have it! Go forth and shop local from the comfort of your couch.
Rebecca Hayes is the Reader Services Librarian at Morton Grove Public Library.