How to Support Indie Bookstores Without Breaking Your Book Buying Ban

Every time I visit a bookstore, I make a point to buy something. The reason? Well, it’s an indie bookstore and all small businesses benefit from sales, continue to stay open, and keep local business…in business.

But what if you’re on a book buying ban? It’s definitely hard to resist temptation especially when you walk into a store you want to support. Over the years, I’ve cultivated a few different ways that you can still support an indie bookstore without breaking your book buying ban. It’s a little bit about being creative with your purchases and giving yourself grace to gift yourself with a book.

So if you’re like me and want to continue to support a local indie bookstore without breaking your book buying ban, here’s some ways you can do that:

Buy the bookstore’s merchandise

Most bookstores that I go to nowadays have merch. It’s a mug or a t-shirt or tote bag with the name of the bookstore on it. I love merchandise like this because it’s not a book and it’s a great way to support the bookstore. I also visit a lot of bookstores while on vacation, so if I can take home a little souvenir of the bookstore visit, then it makes me happy.

Buy a book you’ve already read, but don’t have a copy of

I do this all the time and never count purchasing a book I already read as part of my book buying ban. The point of most of my bans is to not accumulate more unread books and adding them to my TBR. However, if there’s a book you borrowed from the library or bought through your e-reader, you can easily pick up the actual book at a local indie bookstore and immediately add it to your shelf. You don’t have to worry about crippling your mountain of a TBR and you can remember all the good times of reading the book. This goes double if the book is beautifully printed.

Buy a gift for a friend or family member

This is a super easy way to share the gift of books, support a local indie bookstore, and not break your book buying ban. Because it doesn’t count if it’s for a friend, right?

Attend a bookish event

Many indie bookstores host author events. If you’re excited about a new book being published and you see the author is speaking at your local bookstore, this is a great way to attend the event, grab a copy of the book, and support the bookstore all at the same time. And if the event is being hosted IRL, you can even meet the author and get your book signed!

Plan your trip and purchase one book

This one is a tough one because if you’re like me, you want to buy the entire store. But if you plan out your buys before you go or if you plan to buy just one book, then you can buy a book without the guilty feeling that you’ve bought too many. Whenever I plan a bookstore visit, I make a point to plan out the book I want to buy. Then, it’s the only book I pick up. Of course, this could be a dangerous trip because one book can easily lead to four books, but at that point it’s sheer will keeping me from buying too many.

Buy something other than a book

Many of the bookstores I go to always have more than just books. It could be anything from hosting local artists and their work to bookish t-shirts to artwork and posters. There’s a variety of things outside of books that you can pick up to support the business and not break your book buying ban. Perhaps it’s a pretty mug or a silly greeting card to send to your friend, the point is that there’s many ways to support an indie bookstore without buying a book.

The last thing I want to say is that I never feel guilty for buying a book at full price at a bookstore. Sometimes I look at my receipt and take in a huge breath because of how much I spent, but then I think again about how I’m supporting this business and keeping the doors open. I’m a huge fan of cheap books whenever I can get them, but the magic of a bookstore and the hard work these small businesses put into creating an open and inviting store is well worth the price.

4 thoughts on “How to Support Indie Bookstores Without Breaking Your Book Buying Ban

  1. i agree that it’s important we support our indie bookstores. a lot of the ones here don’t sell merch like mugs and totes, but those things i would buy in a heartbeat – they something you can use every day, more than once, and are usually pretty cool.


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