For the love of books: how to support indies during COVID-19

Bookselling can be a precarious business, especially for indie bookshops and small presses who lack the big war chests needed to get them through a crisis. Here are some resources that readers can use to help bookshops and those who rely on them through this difficult period (all well as top up your TBR piles for being stuck indoors), plus some fab projects book folk are doing to lift spirits and offer support.

The situation is always changing, but we we will try to keep this as relevant and up-to-date as possible.

Last updated: 17/11/2020

How to Find & Support Independent Bookshops

Though bookshops across the UK have shut their doors, many are still able to take orders via phone, email, website, or social media. Alternatively, check if they offer wishlists, vouchers or book tokens for a future purchase, pre-order upcoming titles or put money towards a pay-it-forward scheme to help make books available to those who can’t afford them.


Indie Bookshops has an fantastic interactive Google Map of indie businesses across UK & Ireland, many of which can offer delivery or curb-side collections:


The Bookseller also have a comprehensive list of bookshops that are still taking orders, whether it be online, via email, or over the phone:

https://www.thebookseller.com/insight/book-shops-close-coronavirus-advice-comes-1195864


Alternatively you can search for your local bookshop via the Booksellers Association:

https://www.booksellers.org.uk/bookshopsearch

And follow the #ChooseBookshops hashtag online for more info & updates.

Great Places to Shop Online

If you’re not able to go to an independent directly, there are plenty of awesome online stores were you can buy books responsibly.


Bookshop.org is a newly launched online bookstore dedicated to supporting indies. With proceeds being distributed among bookshops, or going directly to a store of your choice. Here you can browse curated lists from bookshops, publishers, readers, and us!

Hive represents hundreds of independent bookshops across the UK and a portion of all sales goes to a bookshop of your choice, right now they are doubling that commission on all home deliveries.


Waterstones & Blackwells have closed all of their England stores but you can still order from them online, with some stores remaining open for click & collect. They’ve also got tons of recommendations for keeping yourself & kids entertained at home.


The Big Green Bookshop can source almost any book and deliver worldwide. Just pop them an email or send a DM to @biggreenbooks.                                                                   


Kennys Bookshop can deliver a huge selection of books worldwide at great discounts, and offers free delivery in Ireland.


Gay’s the Word have launched a fantastic online bookshop offering a wide array of LGBTQ+ books, complete with a curated online shop window. Alternatively, consider signing up to Queer Book Box for a handpicked selection of queer reads delivered to your door each month.


Comics & graphic novel fans head to the Forbidden Planet webstore who are also still taking orders & offering click and collect. Alternatively Gosh Comics & Travelling Man are also operating online shops.


Foyles, Books Etc., Book Depository & WHSmith are also great choices, though be aware that in all-cases deliveries may be delayed due to high demand.

Events & Other Stuff

From lockdown podcasts to virtual bookshop tours the book world pulled together to keep folks entertained in the last lockdown. Most of these events have since run their course but take a look anyway in for a repository of great content.


Burley Fisher Books have started a new podcast called Isolation Station where they’ll be interviewing writers like Preti Taneja, Emma Glass, and more.


Gayle Lazda of the LRB Bookshop has a fantastic fundraiser for booksellers affected by the crisis, all money will go to The Book Trade Charity and Penguin Random House UK will match contributions up to £50,000.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/fundraiser-booksellers-covid-19


The top-notch folk at Edinburgh’s Lighthouse Books have launched the #LighthouseLifeRaft where they’ll be offering a load of extra-curricular book content.


Ninja Book Box are hosting a Virtual Bookshop Crawl from March 30th onwards. Sign-up here to tag along via your inbox or follow the #virtualbookshopcrawl hashtag on Twitter.


Gays the Word Bookshop are doing live poetry readings from LGBTQ poets every weekday between 10-11 on Instagram Live. You can also find past poems under the #C19Poems hashtag or saved to their Highlights under C-19 Poems.


Influx Press are doing regular Lockdown Discussions every Thursday chatting about various book / publishing topics. Check out their first video below on anthologies and follow them on Twitter @influxpress for more.

They are also working with Attrib. author Eley Williams to launch a Short Story Auction. Eley will write 19 flash fiction stories from scratch based on suggestions that you send in, in what will become a limited edition chapbook!

The money raised will help keep Influx going but also be split with The Book Trade Charity.


Melville House have launched #MelvilleHousehold, a live online book club starting 10th April at 7pm. You can download each book club pick as a discounted ebook and send questions to the author using the #MelvilleHoushold hashtag.


Forum Books, Book-ish, Booka Bookshop & Linghams Books are teaming up to launch At Home With which will be hosting live online author events with well known writers and illustrators. Follow on Twitter or Facebook for updates.


Know of anything else that should be included in this list? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add it in. Stay safe everyone and best wishes from us.

3 thoughts on “For the love of books: how to support indies during COVID-19

  1. Gay’s the Word Bookshop is reading a poem by a LGBTQ poet each weekday morning on Instagram Live between 10-11am, for some company and solace. Each reading is saved to our Stories for 24 hours and the poems are saved to our Highlights under C-19 Poems and under the tag #C19Poems. IG: @gaysthewordbookshop

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