If you’re looking to get your books somewhere other than Amazon, then here’s a whole host of independent booksellers worth supporting.
Each week on the Film Stories site, we’ve been championing children’s books that have been struggling to get the attention they deserve elsewhere. We’re back to normal on that next week, but wanted to salute the many independent booksellers still battling for business during the numerous lockdowns.
Books are getting a lot of us through the unrelenting pandemic rollercoaster. But writers and publishers are in a precarious position: without in-person marketing events, it’s ever more challenging for new or less-known names to cut through. That puts pressure on booksellers, too. We’ve been championing some great reads lately, and now it’s time to turn the spotlight on the people who get them to us.
Lots of people use Amazon to get their books, for lots of good reasons. Others have switched to Hive, which functions in much the same way but splits proceeds with a local independent seller of your choice. And now there’s the indie hub Bookshop.org in the UK, which provides an online outlet for a lot of indies who might not have the investment or manpower to run their own online store. Sometimes, though, you want to support a precious community resource one-to-one. So we asked Twitter’s avid readers which indies they’re getting their books from – while helping to keep the post-pandemic doors open.
Most are in the UK and Ireland, but we got a cluster of enthusiastic Australian recommendations (two of which ship globally), so we threw them in too. Many are also children’s book specialists, while some include all ages.
UK & Ireland
A children’s bookshop in Richmond, London, which also offers gift vouchers, loyalty cards and a postal subscription.
Bear Hunt Books
Based in Wirral, Merseyside, Bear Hunt is a children’s bookshop. As of January, you can add a £2.50 ‘gift a book’ donation to get more books into the hands of children in low-income families while they’re cut off from schools and libraries.
Big Green Bookshop
Highly recommended by local Londonders, this Wood Green based all-ages bookshop has made the most of its dedicated Twitter following to launch the weekly #BuyAStrangerABook scheme, as well as offering postal subscriptions. The team also has a Patreon if you want to sign up for longer-term support.
Based in Crickhowell, Powys, Book-ish is run by the director of Crickhowell Literary Festival. It also offers subscription boxes for adults and children starting at £10 a month.
County Down’s Bridge Books offers books for all ages, including pre-loved bargains.
Chicken and Frog
Outside lockdowns, Chicken and Frog is also a children’s tuition centre and cafe in Brentwood, Essex.
Ginger and Pickles
Edinburgh’s Ginger and Pickles is a dedicated children’s bookshop. During lockdown they’re offering click and collect, or local hand delivery.
When not looking at the stars, Dublin’s Gutter Bookshop sells books for all ages, shipping internationally, too.
Oxford-based Lantana isn’t a bookshop – it’s a children’s book publisher and social enterprise – but you can buy its titles directly online. One book bought = one book donated.
In nearby Abingdon, Mostly Books caters to all ages. The online store filters by categories, and includes some book-related gifts, like reading lights.
An all-ages London bookshop that champions local authors and offers UK-wide postage.
News From Nowhere Radical and Community Bookshop
Since the 1970s, News From Nowhere has run as an all-female workers collective, where everyone earns the same living wage – and there are no bosses. Most books need to be ordered in, but I can personally vouch for the team being quick and keeping you updated by email. Caters to all ages; can ship internationally.
Norfolk Children’s Book Centre
Exactly what it sounds like! Owner Marilyn Brocklehurst is also worth an extra Twitter follow for recommendations and general book chat.
Ottie and the Bea
A London-based trove of children’s books, toys, homewares and clothes. Free local delivery of orders over £30 during lockdown.
Round Table Books CIC
A project by publishers Knights Of, Brixton’s Round Table particularly champions inclusive and accessible titles.
London’s second hand bookshop Skoob is a slight outlier in this list, as it’s stock is largely academic, rare or out-of-print titles. But as a niche indie flying the flag for curated literature, we thought it deserved a mention (and people buying books for kids might also want books for themselves, after all…).
Buy direct online (takes you to Psychobabel)
Stories by the Sea
Based in St Ives, Cornwall, Stories by the Sea is run by Heather of Reading Rocks – a great resource for parents, guardians and teachers during lockdown (and beyond).
Another coastal choice, this time in St Anne’s-on-Sea, Lancashire. Co-owner Katie Clapham welcomes requests for personal recommendations on Twitter, and can accept direct DM orders (paying by PayPal or similar) – which nets the store a bigger margin than buying online. Caters to all ages.
Tales on Moon Lane
A Herne Hill, London-based children’s bookshop focusing on inclusive and accessible titles.
The Barrister in Wonderland
A children’s bookshop in Nottinghamshire. Since March 2020, the team has also accepted #PayItForward donations, to get new books to children currently cut off from school and public libraries. And they’ve donated books to local Bassetlaw food bank. You can also set up a subscription starting at £30 for 3 months.
The Book Nook
2018’s Children’s Bookseller of the Year, based in Hove. Follow on Twitter for lots of links to virtual events with authors.
The Bookshop on the Square
An all-ages bookshop based in Otley, West Yorkshire.
The Grove Bookshop
An all-ages bookshop in nearby Ilkley, also West Yorkshire.
The Rocketship Bookshop
A Salisbury bookshop recommended to us several times on Twitter for its beautifully wrapped deliveries – so perhaps a particularly good choice for gifts. Free delivery to the SP1 postcode, free nationwide delivery for orders over £30, and click and collect available at set times.
Topping & Company Booksellers
An independent chain with individual Twitter accounts for its Ely, Bath, Edinburgh and St Andrews stores. Offers first editions, collectibles and subscriptions for adults, but you can order books for all ages.
Amplify sells books online for all ages, new and pre-loved, with a specific focus on fiction and non-fiction for, by and about Black people, indigenous people and people of colour. International shipping available.
Melbourne’s Little Bookroom is a children’s bookshop that offers subscriptions and delivers across Australia.
Lost in Books
Lost in Books describes itself as “the bookshop that speaks your language”. To name literally just a few: Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Spanish, Armenian, Albanian, Greek, Malay, Māori, Pashto, Yoruba and Hindi. If you’re local, you’ll also find a cafe and safe space for women there. If you’re not, the team can post internationally.
Lead image: BigStock
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