How to Support Indie Bookstores Without Breaking Your Book Buying Ban

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.

Bookstore Tour – Warwick’s

Bookstore Tour – Warwick’s

It’s been a very long time since I’ve done a Bookstore Tour. I think because most times I go to a new bookstore, I find myself browsing the books and the atmosphere and forgetting to take my phone out of my bag. Is anyone else the type of person who loves to be in the moment than recording the moment?

However, I made sure to take out my camera for this one. Warwick’s is the oldest family-run bookstore in the United States. Can you believe that one family has owned this bookstore for forever and continues to share their love of books to this day? I mean, I hope one day I’ll have something I can pass down to someone and they’ll keep it around for generations.

When I first stepped inside the store, I was a little confused. The store actually takes up two storefronts. One side of the store is dedicated to gifts and stationery goods while the other is the actual bookstore. I only took pictures of the bookstore side, but I would strongly recommend taking a browse through the gift and stationery side too.

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The bookstore has a beautiful and clean feel about it. The displays are loving put together and they even look jam packed with books. The selection is also very big, so you’ll easily find books bookstagrammers post about all over the store. I absolutely loved the bookish quotes printed on the walls.

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I wanted to grab a tote bag or a mug or a t-shirt with the bookstore’s logo, but the only thing they had were bookmarks given to you when you bought a book. I hate when I leave a new bookstore empty handed, but I also understand that not all bookstores have their own swag. So I set out to buy a book.

As we were wandering around the shop, I saw B in the nonfiction section. He was perusing a book and as a guy that doesn’t read on the regular anymore, I had to find out what he was looking through. It turned out to be Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan. This memoir is supposed to be one of the best memoirs written and also one of the best written on surfing. He was an avid surfer and spent most of his life finding the perfect wave. It’s like the documentary Endless Summer except without an annoying narrator making dad jokes.

When I saw B skimming through the novel, something in me wanted to read it. I knew about the book from bookstagram and it was one of those books that I wanted to read but didn’t know when I would read. So, I decided to pick it up and make it a priority. I also got my souvenir bookmark to go with it.

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Seriously, this bookstore was lovely. They have bookish events and while I didn’t see many seats to just sit and read for hours, it’s definitely the kind of place you can stop at before hitting up one of the cute coffee shops and cafes in the area. Warwick’s is on a pretty big main road in San Diego’s La Jolla Cove. You can easily walk to the beach with your new book if you wanted to as well!

I would strongly suggest checking this place out the next time you’re in San Diego. Not only will you find something to read on vacation, but you’ll support local businesses too.

Have you been to Warwick’s?

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Bookstore Tour: The Last Bookstore, Downtown Los Angeles

Bookstore Tour: The Last Bookstore, Downtown Los Angeles

I haven’t done a bookstore tour in a really long time. I think I was still living in Brooklyn where small bookstores reign gloriously. But I went on vacation and did some road tripping recently and I have bookstores to report back!

Today we’re going to be heading to the West (best) Coast to check out The Last Bookstore in Downtown LA. If you’re not aware, The Last Bookstore is probably one of the most instagrammed bookstores. The reason: because this store is outfitted with artsy bookish displays for you and your friends to pose next to.

Continue reading “Bookstore Tour: The Last Bookstore, Downtown Los Angeles”

My First Amazon Books Experience

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I was walking to the train the other day from a bridal shower my sister threw for me. The shower was a great time and we walked around and looked at expensive clothes I can never be able to afford.

And as I was making my way down to the train station, I walked across the Amazon Bookstore that recently opened. Oh whoa, this thing is already open? I asked myself as I moseyed to the front door. A security guard open the door for me and I entered the space. Of course I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to check out a major brand’s bookstore. I’ve been buying books with Amazon since Amazon was only about books, but now that Amazon is about everything it just seems a little short sighted to open just a book store.

Nevertheless, I continued into the brightly lit space. I felt like one of the new customers walking into Joe Fox’s “Fox Books.” Everything was beautifully displayed, clean, and covered in books. The coffee from the cafe connected to the store wafted through the air providing the atmosphere with some sort of sensory trigger. Paper and coffee; a deadly combination to any good-willed reader.

The entire experience made me think of You’ve Got Mail and the battle for bookish territory between an independent bookstore and a major corporate book outlet. However, there were some obvious differences between Fox Books and Amazon Books.

I didn’t get the vibe that Fox Books was trying to set up. Yes, there was coffee and books but the store was a little bit cramped. Given the fact that they’re right in front of the Empire State Building, they’re getting way more foot traffic than Joe Fox was getting at his store in the Upper West Side.

I was a little squished against some other book browsers. Moms and dads just watching their kids playing on the Kindle Fires. The aisles were a little cramped and not even two people can pass casually without a few “excuse me”s and “i’m sorry”s. There weren’t floors of books where you can hide out and read for hours without anyone interrupting you. There wasn’t a huge selection of novels from every genre here. I didn’t even see an Amazon Books mug! I would have been all over that.

But I think the biggest and most interesting thing about this store was the selection. I read somewhere that Amazon Books would only stock novels that have been rated and reviewed the most on Amazon and Goodreads. If you’re the social reader that reads a good book every six months, then this will be the store for you. You get to see a great compilation of best-reviewed novels throughout all the genres.

However, if you’re an avid reader getting in about 25-50 books a year you might find this store to be a little underwhelming. All the books I saw on display were novels I’ve already heard of and seen. Some I’ve already read. And as attractive as that is to the average consumer, it’s not that attractive for a daily reader.

The other downside of having only best-rated or best-reviewed is that you’re not going to get those hidden gem novels. You’re not going to find the mid-list novel here. This is really a drawback especially since my mission in life is to share great diverse reads and some of those reads aren’t being read by the hundreds of thousands.

And of course, you can buy any of the Amazon products right at the store. That is if you can get an opportunity to pry a kid off the Kindle Fires to see how they work.

There was definitely one plus, though. You can pay with your Amazon account and if you’re a Prime member, you can get a discounted price. You know when you’re shopping for books on Amazon and you see the retail price  with a strikethrough and a discounted price? Well, that’s what you can get to pay here. To pay with your Amazon account, all you have to do is scan a QR code with your phone and then the cashier just scans your phone. I didn’t even take my wallet out once and contemplate the remorse I would feel from buying six books.

Overall, I think this might be a good hangout for me while I wait for the train. There’s coffee and books for me to browse, but it’s not going to be my go-to spot for books. It was fun and I’ll probably go in there again, but I’m not going to hold my breath that this will replace any other bookstore in the world.


Bookstore Tour – Hoehyeon Underground Market Bookstore


While on my travels in Korea, I wanted to spend some time checking out the local bookstores. Sadly, I didn’t check out any (blame it on the jetlag and laziness), but while walking through the city’s underground shopping centers, I came across a little bookstore crammed floor to ceiling with books.


I could barely fit myself into the store. A narrow entrance led me to books from all different genres, in different languages, and from different countries. The faint sound of classical music playing somewhere in the back indicated to me that this wasn’t just some personal collection unearthed and placed in a small store as storage. This place with a legitimate store with probably some sort of shelving system that I couldn’t discern. It almost felt like a “choose your own adventure” where you are lucky to find something you were looking for. The fun part is that you always find something.




Bookstore Tour – Books Are Magic


Books Are Magic is a midsize bookstore in the heart of Cobble Hill. Owned by Emma Straub and her husband, their dedication to bring an independent bookstore to their part of Brooklyn was such a success.

The walls smell like fresh paint and the bookshelves have that distinct musk that only books have when coupled with wood. It’s too bad there wasn’t a cafe because I’m pretty sure coffee would seal the deal and make it a true bookstore.


My first assumption I had about the store before even stepping foot into it was that it was some  place where they only sold like the 6th printed copy of Faulkner or only non-biographical pieces. But no, I was wrong. This place carried everything. From popular NYT best-sellers to some indie titles, I was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful and spacious bookstore in the middle of Cobble Hill.

The walls are lined with beautiful hardcover, paperback, fiction and non-fiction alike. Stepping deeper into the store you’ll find a whole room dedicated to children with little reading nooks for those who want a little bit of time to themselves.

Come by to read, to browse, to attend an event, or even to pick up a cute trinket or two. I promise you won’t be disappointed.


Books Are Magic

225 Smith St

Brooklyn, NY 11231