An odd benefit of sheltering in place is that being forced to stay inside can be a great opportunity to get through your TBR list–all those books you’ve put on your wishlist To Be Read once you have the time. Now that we all have the time but not the luxury of being able to browse the shelves at the local bookstore, here’s how to get the books you want while being COVID-19 responsible.
Browse online. I do a lot of my “showrooming” on Amazon. If I’m on the fence about getting a book or a product in general, I read the description and reviews on Amazon. For books, you can add Goodreads to the mix. It’s a tremendous resource driven by readers who love talking about books. You can even connect with some of your favorite authors.
Buy ebooks and audiobooks. If you’re worrying about touching items that other people have touched, the simple solution is to do your reading electronically. These days, it’s weird if a book doesn’t get released as an ebook, and audio reading is one of the fastest growing sectors of the market. Rest assured, your new favorite read is most likely available for your preferred digital device. Ebooks in particular are cheaper, never out of stock, and delivered instantly. They’re also frequently discounted. To help with the current demand for at-home entertainment, Smashwords is running an Authors Give Back sale, encouraging indie authors to discount their ebooks from today until April 20th. Short Fuse Publishing is participating, so if you’re looking to read a Fuse Lit author on the cheap, visit our profile here, and enter the discount code listed at checkout. And to help those who are taking self-quarantine as an opportunity to learn new things, all of our Short Fuse Guides of publishing tips written by agents are now free.
#BuyIndie with curbside pickup. Small businesses are getting hit the hardest with this. Thankfully, a great way to support your community in good times and bad is to buy books from your local independent bookstore. Find yours here on Indiebound. Several of them are remaining open in a limited capacity and making adjustments. My local indie, Avid Reader, says on their website: If you wish, you can call in advance to see if we have a particular book, magazine, puzzle, newspaper, or a special order and we will meet you in the parking lot with the item. Curbside pickup is becoming common, and some of them will even ship the books to your house.
If you do buy physical books online, there are a few things to keep in mind. For the time being, Amazon is deprioritizing book sales in favor of shipping out household items and medical supplies in a timely manner. Prime or no, you may very well get your book quicker from your local indie. And as a general precaution re: packages, keep in mind the CDC’s report that COVID-19 can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours.
Check your local library. Though some libraries are closing their physical doors for the time being, they continue to offer ebooks and audiobooks via Overdrive and the Libby app. These are, as always, free, and you’re still supporting authors when you check out their books. Libraries buy their books, often at a much higher price to facilitate repeat lending, and most authors are thrilled when you find their work at your local library.
We hope you stay safe during this unusual time. Read well, be well, and wash your hands.