Creative Ways to Support Your Local Bookstore

At the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, on my way to the Witherle Library in Castine

Kate Flora: Let’s face it–it is so easy to click onto Amazon and order that we often default to that mode. But readers who love books, and bookstores, and browsing the shelves or asking the staff for suggestions, know that if we don’t support them, local bookstores will go the way of the dinosaurs. This would leave a hole in our lives, a hole we may not even recognize until we suddenly need a book to read right now or don’t know what we want and need informed suggestions. If we want to keep our local bookstores, let’s make a vow to balance our on-line buying with shopping local.

Here, in no particular order, are ways you can support your local bookstore without breaking your budget.

Baby Presents: Sure, we all love buying those cute little pink or blue outfits, which are

Lyn Smith’s wonderful new book

quickly outgrown. But a book can give pleasure over and over and over, and even become something that the children will revisit for their own children. Consider what books you loved as a child. What books that you pick off the shelves have magical illustrations that you can imagine a mom or dad showing to a small child? Goodnight Moon never gets old. Neither does the little slipcase of Maurice Sendak books small enough for a young child’s hands. A stack of individually wrapped books, perhaps in

Illustration from The Porcupine’s Promenade

a tote the parents can reuse, makes a wonderful baby gift. And while you’re there, if there are older siblings, it is nice to include wrapped books for those other children. Most bookstores will have totes as well, a great selection of cards, and many will wrap for free.



Wedding Presents: Often, by the time I get to the gift registry, anything I would like to buy is gone, and I’m not ready to spring for the $500 appliance. I also like to find something that the couple can reuse for years to come. My solution? Cook’s Illustrated’s amazing cookbook: The New Best Recipe, which is not only a good cookbook, but a great read. In this book, the authors detail the many experiments they went through to reach the final recipe, and why it ended up being the version chosen. It’s a lesson in the science of cooking. I wrap it and then put it, and a card, inside of an interesting tote bag that can be reused many times. I’m also currently enamored with Yottam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks, including Plenty, for vegetarians, and Jerusalem for the recipes and the amazing photos. Want to be creative? Get a few of the exotic ingredients the recipes call for, like pomegranate molasses or sumac, and stick a few of them in the tote. For lovers of Maine, there’s , which has illustrations of places as well as food.

The couple aren’t cooks? No problem. A coffee table book of the location they’re going for their honeymoon, or the place they met, or perhaps one that echoes their hobbies. The possibilities are endless. You’ve given a thoughtful gift and supported your local bookstore.

Hostess Gifts: Here the possibilities are also endless. And can be so much more creative than the usual wine or flowers. A copy of a book you’ve recently read and loved? A cookbook you’ve just discovered and think they’d like. A small chapbook that will also support a local poet. A pair of books that connect, like The Sun Also Rises and The Paris Wife.


The “Treat Yourself” Binge: We all think of summer as the

The garden book I drool over, and there is Gardens Maine Style 2 as well

time when we’re going to take a break from work, kick back, and read, right? So to help make that happen, treat yourself to a trip to the bookstore, and buy

yourself two or three books you’ve been saying you’re going to read. I recently binge read three Frederik Bachman books: A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt Marie was here. Loved all three and it was so much fun to just move from one book to the next. Maybe for you it will be Jane Austen, or rereading Dick Francis, or discovering a new mystery author binge reading the whole series. (We at Maine Crime Writers love this option.)


Grandma or Grandpa’s Book Club: Thanks to Hank Phillippi Ryan for this idea…each month, your grandchild sends you a postcard listing a current interest or long-for book, and you send a book. I am looking forward to sending the Lemony Snicket series.

What other ways can you think of to support your local bookstore? I posed this question to my Facebook friends, and got some great suggestions, including this one for supporting both local bookstores and your library. Starting this summer, Devaney, Doak & Garrett in Farmington is introducing this program:

Announcing the DDG Library Reward Program, a way for community members to support their town library while shopping at their local bookstore. DDG Booksellers is dedicated to community partnership and literacy outreach. We offer many discount and content programs to our beloved town Library partners. The Library Reward Program adds fund raising to the mix. The program’s goal is to keep community resources in town while providing area libraries with a substantially greater fund raising benefit level than online fund raising programs such as Amazon Smile offer. Amazon Smile takes money out of the community and only returns .05 percent to the local library. A thousand dollars of purchasing only returns $5.00. Our Library Reward Program (LRP) gives back 5% on all dedicated purchase, ten times the return.

The program is easy to sign up for and easy to use. Library patrons who wish to participate in the program simply need to have their DDG purchases applied to the Library’s DDG LRP account. The LRP account will automatically track and issue store credit to participating Libraries for their book purchases. It’s a simple way to increase your book buying power through community partnership. The program starts on August 1, 2017. You can sign up anytime. We look forward to working together.

p.s. If you haven’t already bought it, and like to read e-books, A Good Man with a Dog is on sale until the 15th for $1.99

A Good Man with a Dog


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6 Responses to Creative Ways to Support Your Local Bookstore

  1. We would always mark the last day of school by taking the kids to a bookstore and they could get as many books for summer as they wanted.

  2. John R. Clark says:

    Well said. I’m buying more and more books from Bullmoose because I know that it’s a Maine chain and they’re staffed by really nice folks…AND you can’t beat shelf browsing for discovering the best reads. Their prices are darn close to Amazon, they offer free shipping on orders over $30.00, I can pre-order and they take books, DVDs and music in trade. What could be better?

  3. Lea Wait says:

    Love this post! When my grandchildren were born I sent each of them a bookcase. Then … on any excuse for an occasion, I sent them books. And always give books as baby shower gifts. Love the idea of extending that to wedding showers (and gifts!)

  4. Sandra Neily says:

    Oh Kate…Brilliant post. So. Birthday or other celebrations. For close friends (and nieces, nephews), we pick a town with an Indie book store, meet up, browse, I buy the book (there is a $ limit or gawd forbid I’d be spending hundreds on coffee table stuff). Then we go out for ice cream, food cart, whatever. Love the bookshelf as baby present idea shared here. Am a new grandmother and will do!

    And for when times are financially pinched: my young daughter and I would go to a bookstore and carry no money, just a notebook. We’d browse and make wish lists and at Xmas share them out to folks in a special card with the store contact info.

  5. Barb Ross says:

    I always give books for wedding showers. For years it was the Joy of Cooking and the Joy of Sex (sort of a joke, get it?) But when the Joy of Sex went out of print, I carried on giving cookbooks.

  6. Julianne says:

    Barb: Your ‘Joy of…’ pair was inspired. We usually have way more skill in the kitchen!
    As a mum and now a Nana, I can’t resist giving books. You never know what will strike a chord with children. On impulse I grabbed The Gruffalo for my three-year-old grand daughter. We read it 8 times back-to-back. When my son was small and we would go to the well-baby clinic for his check up, they had a book basket for the kids. He would always look for Zach’s Alligator. I finally got him his own copy. Being able to handle and skim the hard copy is a real pleasure. Amazon can be easy, but if we don’t support our local retailers, where will we be able to see items in the flesh?! Thanks for this inspired post.

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