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Welcome to part three of our ongoing series about supporting the literary community during the coronavirus pandemic. This week, we focus on independent bookstores and authors in need.

Charleston, West Virginia’s Taylor Books. Photo: Taylor Books.
Charleston, West Virginia’s Taylor Books. Photo: Taylor Books.

Support Bookstores

Most stores are taking orders directly or on platforms like or IndieBound. Not sure where to start? Check out the titles from the latest issue of Bookforum.

If you feel like living a bit dangerously (while still staying inside), put your faith in booksellers’ hands. Order a secondhand mystery bag from Milwaukee’s Boswell Book Company, a “surprise-me” paperback or hardcover from Oakland’s East Bay Booksellers, a “literary care package” from Tulsa’s Magic City Books or Phoenix’s Changing Hands Bookstore, or a custom book bundle from Nashville’s Parnassus Books, which includes a personalized note from novelist and Parnassus co-owner Ann Patchett.

If you prefer to shop in person, get a gift card to redeem once stores have reopened or invest in a bookstore membership, like the new tiered program from Boston’s Brookline Booksmith. These are especially helpful, since they provide cash up front without adding to shipping demands.

No more room on your shelves? Order a gift for a friend or support readers in need through a book drive like this one by Liberation Library, an organization that provides reading material to incarcerated youth in Illinois. You’ll help young people and Chicago’s independent bookstores.

You can also contribute directly to fundraising campaigns. Save Indie Bookstores is collecting money to spread between their network of independent shops, while Publishers Weekly is compiling a regularly updated list of bookstores with GoFundMe pages. Recent additions include Taylor Books in Charleston, West Virginia; the Book Tavern in Augusta, Georgia; and the Printed Garden in Sandy, Utah. Help the employees laid off from Portland’s Powell’s Books by donating to their union, or give to emergency aid funds created by out-of-work booksellers at New York City’s McNally Jackson and Posman Books (locations in Atlanta, Boston, and New York).

Support Authors

Of course, one of the simplest ways to support your favorite authors is to purchase their books. This is especially true for writers with work scheduled to come out this spring or summer. Make sure to buy their books when they’re released, or, even better, place a pre-order. Without any opportunities to promote their work in person, authors will benefit enormously from the early buzz and income pre-orders garner. You can also help sustain authors by attending their virtual book releases or enrolling in writer-led online classes and workshops.

There are also a number of organizations taking donations on behalf of writers unable to cover living or medical expenses during COVID-19. The American Society of Journalists and Authors, Dramatists Guild Foundation, Maurice Sendak Foundation, PEN America, have all created emergency funds to help journalists, playwrights, novelists, illustrated-book writers and artists, and poets.

If you want to direct your donations in a more specific manner, Shade Literary Arts has created an emergency fund to serve queer writers of color affected by COVID-19, while International Women’s Media Foundation has set up a fund aimed at supporting women writers. Small Press Distribution is also seeking donations to continue their operations on behalf of independent and small presses––crucial launchpads for writers “often excluded from and underrepresented in the culture at large.” Lambda Literary is similarly appealing to the public to help stay afloat and continue their work advocating for LGBTQ writers.


This is part three of Bookforum’s series on the literary community under coronavirus. Read parts one and two, on virtual bookstore events and online writing and literature classes here.

Hannah Stamler is a Ph.D. student in history at Princeton University.