Sunday, September 27, 2020

Saving Our Bookstores by Buying Gifts as Well as Books

In-person shopping isn't as big this fall as last, but that doesn't mean we can't buy books and other gifts at independent bookstores or Barnes and Noble. Shop at a store or on line. Put a note on the refrigerator to remind yourself.

You say not all your friends and family want books? You can buy games, puzzles, toys, notecards and a lot more. Many stores will ship products. 

I have begun publishing my paperbacks (as well as Nook Books) through Barnes and Noble Press, to make it easier for readers to order them in the stores. They do a lot for authors, so I'm happy to see them make money when I do.

Are you familiar with  It's an online platform through which independent bookstores can present their books to the public. This is especially important at a time when so many have been unable to deal with customers face-to-face. The site has helped independent bookstores make $6.9 million. That's a lot of tea and cookies.

Each bookstore has its own sales page. For example, Our Town Books in Jacksonville, Illinois (near me) has

Another option is a list, by state and Canadian province, maintained by New Pages. Some of the bookstores are open for in-person sales and some are currently doing only online sales. I went through several states that I know relatively well and found the list quite comprehensive.

I got a kick out of the website of Solid State Bookstore (on the H Street Corridor in DC), which proclaims "October is the New December." In other words, shop early.

Why is it important to give books as gifts? I substitute teach, largely in a middle school. I love to see the books the language arts teachers pick, and see how they sometimes work with teachers in other disciplines so, for example, lessons in language arts and history cover similar subjects.

But there is one sad thing. When kids finish a test early or tell me in study hall that they have "nothing to do," I tell them to select a book from the shelves or read their own. Some do, and a few always have personal fiction to read. At least 100 kids have said, "I don't read." Period. They say it proudly.

If you know kids with similar perspectives, give them a book that deals with something they do like. If they watch football, give them a history of the Super Bowl. Try an audiobook that deals with a popular TV series. Anything to get them away from the television and video games. Either one is fine in moderation, but most low readers are mesmerized by watching rather than interaction -- which you have to do with a book.

As someone who shops rarely, you may never hear these words from me again: "Grab a credit card and go shopping."

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