The need to support independent bookstores has become clearer than ever this year. Indie bookstores are really struggling. Beloved bookstores like The Strand and Powell’s underwent massive layoffs in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not all bad, of course. Though it’s a very uncertain time for small businesses everywhere, independent book sellers and their communities continue to fight hard for their existence. Indies are pushing back against the big box stores too. The #BoxedOut campaign encourages people to “buy books from people who want to sell books, not colonize the moon.” And, you’ve got to admit, that’s a really compelling point.
Supporting small businesses, independent sellers, and used book shops is easier than ever with an increasing number of options to buy online (especially important right now) as well as in-store. So do yourself, the world, and your wallet some good by shopping with these six places to buy books online that aren’t Amazon. Your bookshelves will thank you!
If you’re looking for good deals on books, look no further! Thrift Books offers a huge selection of second-hand books at amazing discounts. And they’re big on social responsibility, too. Their website notes that they “save millions of books every year from being destroyed” and donate books to prisons, schools, and other literacy programs. I love supporting a book shop that is also focused on doing good!
Want to support specific local bookshops? That’s Bookshop.org’s mission. By creating an easy way to shop for books online while supporting independent bookstores, they aim to keep local book seller’s flourishing. You can select a specific bookshop to support, or simply buy a book with the money going toward a pool that will be evenly distributed among independent booksellers.
As of the writing of this post, Bookshop.org has raised over 7 million dollars for local bookstores. How cool is that?
Like a number of book sellers on this list, Better World Books was created with the goal of making a positive impact on the world. In addition to boasting great prices, Better World Books supports literacy and the environment. Old library books that might otherwise be thrown out find new homes through Better World Books. This way, new readers can find the books they’re looking for as well as preventing these books from ending up in landfills. Is there anything better than buying a book and knowing you’re doing good by doing so?
Blackwell’s has a very special place in my heart because of my undying love of Oxford. In addition to tons of great books, and the ability to snag gorgeous UK editions, Blackwell’s also offers all sorts of bookish goodies to complement your order. With free shipping in the UK and shipping costs included in the price of order for everywhere else, Blackwell’s makes it super easy to place an order anywhere in the world without worrying about extra shipping fees.
Indie Commerce is a platform that allows indie bookshops to sell their books online through their website platform, Indie Lite. Created by the American Bookseller’s Association, Indie Commerce/Lite was specifically created for independent bookshops to provide them an easy and inexpensive way to maintain a presence online. You can peruse a list of the bookstores using this platform OR if you don’t have a preferred local bookshop, may I recommend two of my favorites: Parnassus and Two Friends Books.
If you’re looking for an indie alternative for audiobooks (other than using your local library, which is always a great option), Libro.fm is the way to go. I love that you can select a specific bookstore to support and all the great audiobook options. Plus your membership gets your an audiobook every month so you’ll be able to chip away at your TBR one month at a time.
If these six bookshops just aren’t enough for you and you want more places to buy books online that aren’t Amazon, check out this list of independent bookstores to shop at, some of our favorite independent bookstores, 50 Black-owned bookstores to support, and where to find free books online.