Ep. 204 Embracing Community: The Power of Choosing Local Bookshops Over Big Box and Online Retailers

Supporting the shop local and shop small movements has always been a core value of mine. One way I was failing at that, however, was with my book-buying habits. Instead of supporting local bookshops, I often bought books with 1-click checkout at Amazon. 

Thankfully, I’ve discovered a new way to buy books online that also supports local bookshops! 

Read on to learn more about the genius website that distributes profits to thousands of local bookshops—and how I’ve partnered with them to share my favorite recommendations with savvy shopkeepers like you.


The Magic of Local Bookshops

There’s something enchanting about stepping into a local bookshop. The smell of freshly printed pages, the creaking wooden floors (depending on the brick and mortar space, of course), and the personalized recommendations from passionate staff—it’s an experience you just can’t replicate online. 

My family visits and shops at 1) a local outdoor mall and 2) a charming main street square where all the businesses are locally owned. At both of these bustling shopping centers, the store I look forward to visiting most is the local bookshop. 

I may not purchase a book every time I’m there, but I always enjoy visiting a local bookshop in person. 

Even with my shift to digital note-taking, I still love the feel of a book in my hand. I have tried reading digital books and listening to audiobooks…but I just don’t love them like I do a physical book.

I am currently on a self-imposed suspension from buying books. That’s because, up until recently, I was drowning in books! I had partially read books, never-touched books, and books I read that sat on bookshelves in my office for years.

I decided it was time to reorganize my office and declutter it. To support this project, I set five rules in regards to my overflowing shelves:

  1. Stop buying books until I do something about the hoarding situation.
  2. Give myself permission to STOP reading a book if I don’t love it. 
  3. FINISH or attempt to read every unopened book. 
  4. Not buying books until my unread pile is FINISHED (the only exception is that I can buy one fiction book per vacation).
  5. Until I’ve read all my books, I cannot buy ANY self-help or business books. 

My book-hoarding tendencies are a running joke in Master Shopkeepers and with good reason! But I’m working on it. 

Considering the stack of unread books in my office, I may not be able to buy a new business book until 2025…but at least I’m holding myself accountable. Each time I add a book to my wish list, it motivates me to read another on the stack! 

local bookshop

The Threat to Local Bookshops

While we all enjoy the convenience of online shopping, the rise of mega-retailers like Amazon has threatened our beloved local bookshops. 

I’ll be the first to admit I buy books on Amazon; I have done so for years. I have a wishlist on Amazon that’s miles long! But that doesn’t mean it feels right to buy books from it. 

I recently reviewed my list of core values for Savvy Shopkeeper because I hosted my FIRST Team Meeting (I’ll share more in an upcoming episode!). The second value on the list is this: to support the shop local and shop small movements. 

Buying books from Amazon and sharing Amazon affiliate links from which readers and podcast listeners buy books I recommend doesn’t align with that value. 

Bookshop.org: A Beacon of Hope for Local Bookshops

Thankfully, I found an alternative: Bookshop.org! It aims to bridge the gap between online shopping convenience and supporting local bookstores. Genius. 

Here’s how the site began:

Bookshop.org began as an idea to help support bookstores and their communities as more and more people are buying their books online. We saw an opportunity to create an alternative to Amazon for socially-conscious online shoppers. Amazon sells over 60% of all books in the US and is growing. That shift threatens the future of bookstores and will hurt readers, authors, and publishers who rely on a diverse, healthy ecosystem for books. We had a better idea—give readers the convenience of online shopping while supporting independent bookstores at the same time.

‍We launched in January of 2020, with just 88 bookstore partners and a team of four passionate book people.

As the COVID-19 pandemic surged, our growing platform helped our community of independent booksellers survive shutdowns. That spring, traffic to Bookshop.org hit 1 million users in a single day. By the end of 2020 we had grown to over 1,000 bookstores and distributed over ten million dollars in profits. Bookshop.org has since expanded internationally, launching in the UK and Spain.

78% of our customers said they regularly bought books from Amazon before they made the switch.”

Since 2020, they have raised more than $29 million for independent bookstores.

local bookshop

Your Role as a Book Lover and Small Shop Owner

Every book purchase we make sends a message. We often see and share posts encouraging our community to shop small and shop local. So we have to ask ourselves: what can we do to talk the talk and walk the walk, too?

Our decisions matter.

And I’m NOT saying I’m perfect at this; clearly, I’m not. But I am paying attention and making more of an effort in 2024.

So, as avid readers, book lovers, and independent store owners, what can we do to make a difference when buying books?

In the past, my efforts included…

  • A Recommended Reading List for Master Shopkeepers. This shared Google Doc wasn’t the most effective tool, but the topic of this list came up several times every year, and it was the simplest way to share my recommendations. 
  • A previously published podcast episode where I shared some of my favorite business books. 

The Recommended Reading List didn’t have any links to purchase. Unfortunately, the blog post for the podcast episode had Amazon affiliate links to the books I recommended (facepalm!).

Introducing: The Savvy Shopkeeper Bookshop!

Soon after discovering the site, I realized that Bookshop.org allows anyone to make a bookshop. I’m thrilled to share that we’re launching the Savvy Shopkeeper Bookshop on Bookshop.org!

By purchasing through our shop, you’ll directly support both the podcast and local bookshops. 

Curated Recommendations for Personal Growth and Business Success

On the Savvy Shopkeeper Bookshop, all my book recommendations are categorized by type. 

I believe in the transformative power of literature, both for personal development and business success. That’s why there are two fundamental categories you should peruse at the Savvy Shopkeeper Bookshop:

Business Books for Entrepreneurial Minds

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting, the right book can spark new ideas and strategies. 

From classic management principles to cutting-edge insights, we’ve curated a list of business books that will inspire and guide you on your entrepreneurial journey.

Self-Help Gems for Personal Transformation 

Our personal growth is just as crucial as our professional development. Dive into our collection of self-help books that cover a range of topics, from mindfulness and resilience to goal-setting and achieving a healthy work-life balance.

Other categories at the Savvy Shopkeeper Bookshop include branding, financial, leadership, marketing, and money mindset. I’m sure I’ll add more soon! 

You can easily purchase my recommended books with a couple of clicks. Best of all, it’s online AND supports local bookshops

How Your Book Choices Impact Local Bookshops

By choosing to explore and purchase the books we recommend from Savvy Shopkeeper’s Bookshop.org affiliate shop, you’re not only investing in your growth, but you’re also supporting local bookshops. It’s a win-win!

I’d love to know what books YOU think indie retail store owners should add to their must-read list. 

And I’d love to give away a $50 gift card to the Savvy Shopkeeper Bookshop to celebrate this new way to support local bookshops!

To enter the giveaway, send me a DM on Instagram or email me at kathy@savvyshopkeeper.com with these three things:

  1. The title 
  2. The author’s full name
  3. In three sentences or less, tell me WHY the book would be helpful to the Savvy Shopkeeper community of indie retail store owners. 

I’ll share your explanation as an annotation in the Savvy Shopkeeper Bookshop, as I want visitors to understand WHY it’s recommended if I haven’t read it!

Entries are accepted until January 25, 2024, at 4 PM EST. One winner will be randomly selected and announced on Friday, January 26, 2024!

This website may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission if you make a purchase through those links. The inclusion of affiliate links does not influence the content or opinions presented on this site. I only recommend products and services that I believe in and feel will provide value to you. 

Any earnings generated through affiliate links help support the maintenance, growth, and services provided by Savvy Shopkeeper. Thank you for your support!

Resources

Timestamps

  • [01:13] The Magic of Local Bookshops
  • [05:59] The Threat to Local Bookshops
  • [07:12] Bookshop.org: A Beacon of Hope for Local Bookshops
  • [09:23] Your Role as a Book Lover and Small Shop Owner
  • [10:57] Introducing: The Savvy Shopkeeper Bookshop!
  • [13:16] How Your Book Choices Impact Local Bookshops

Connect With Kathy

Kathy Cruz is an Independent Retail Coach who helps store owners work smarter, profit more, and grow their brick and mortar businesses. 

Connect with Kathy and learn more here:

Website: www.savvyshopkeeper.com 
Instagram: @savvyshopkeeper
Mastermind Group: Master Shopkeepers

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