Buying Local: 16 Indie Bookstores to Support from Home

With you, your patrons, and your loved ones spending more time at home during this difficult period, it is of utmost importance for us here at Booklist to provide you with resources that keep you connected, informed, and hopeful about the world around us. These resources, however, won’t be complete without feedback from you, our readers. Have a suggestion? Question? Idea you’re excited about? Please reach out to us at anytime, either in the comments section below or @ALA_Booklist. We’d love to hear from you.

With business doors shuttered, publication dates postponed, and conferences cancelled, many people are seeking ways to support both the authors and illustrators they love as well as beloved local businesses. In this roundup of Booklist staffers’ fave independent bookshops, we rally together do both. A list of highly anticipated upcoming book releases will follow in the coming days.

Anderson’s Bookshops

First opened above a family drugstore in Naperville, Illinois, in 1964, the family-owned Anderson’s has since expanded to La Grange and Downers Grove. Known for their exciting author events and commitment to book groups and charity, Anderson’s is currently offering 99-cent shipping and curbside delivery. Peruse books here or purchase gift cards here.

The Book Cellar

The Book Cellar is a Lincoln Square fixture and frequently hosts live events, which it is clearly unable to do at this time. Their COVID-19 statement declares that while their doors are closed to the public for the time being, they’re committed to becoming the “‘fast food’ of bookstores.” What’s that mean exactly? “We will be physically in the store every day from 10 to 6 p.m. This will allow us to process your book requests. Then, you can stop by and ‘carry out’ your book.” For more details, click here.

Booked

Located on Main Street in Evanston and founded by parent and elementary educator Chelsea Edward, Booked is a unique shop devoted entirely to children’s literature. While you can’t currently order books through their website, we highly recommend joining their mailing list for the latest updates and stopping in as soon as they can safely open their doors again.

Bookends & Beginnings

Also located in Evanston, Illinois, Bookends & Beginnings, owned by author Nina Barrett, is known by regular customers as the “the speakeasy for books.” Closed for in-person shopping as of Monday, March 16, the shop is now offering $1 same-day delivery of in-stock items to Evanston, Wilmette, Skokie, and Rogers Park—and $0.99 delivery to all other U.S. locations. Plus, they’ve beefed up their puzzle, game, crossword, and activity book inventory. Start browsing here

Bookie’s

After Bookie’s first opened on Chicago’s South Side in 1989, it quickly became a haven for gently used books. Today it’s expanded to a double storefront around the corner from the original location as well as a second spot in Homewood; both carry books new and old, audiobooks, gift cards, and more—and all are available online. To start shopping, click here

Books Are Magic

This Brooklyn-based store, the “third child” of author Emma Straub and designer Michael Fusco-Straub, is a pillar of awesomeness from which you can order classics, must-have forthcoming releases, gift cards, and sweet, sweet merch. (After all, our very own Annie Bostrom owns this BAM hat, and now we want (need?) one, too.) Oh, and the week’s best-sellers are 10 percent off right now! Click here.

Chimera’s Comics

With locations in both Oak Lawn and La Grange, Illinois, Chimera’s boasts a serious selection of in-store comics, from back-issue collector’s items to the latest releases, while also offering a one-of-a-kind free subscription service. Sign up here to receive 10 percent off of all purchases all the time, weekly e-mails about new arrivals, and early invites to exclusive post-pandemic events.

The Ivy Bookshop

It’s a Baltimore bookshop!, courtesy of Marylander Julia Smith. While temporarily closed to the public, the Ivy Bookshop has a robust plan for weathering the pandemic: contact-free shopping available via curbside pickup, free delivery within Baltimore, and nationwide shipping. Clicky click.

Lake Forest Book Store

As Lake Forest College alums, it would be heresy for Biz Hyzy and Briana Shemroske to not virtually shout about Lake Forest Book Store, which is a) offering one-on-one private shopping appointments, b) curbside pickup, c) free delivery within the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff area, d) reduced shipping rates elsewhere, and e) audiobook ordering through Libro. Read all about it!

Love’s Sweet Arrow

For smooching books, there’s no in-person Chicagoland spot better than Love’s Sweet Arrow. It’s way the heck out in the suburbs of Tinley Park, but if you’re not leaving the house anyway, why not order from Roseann and Marissa? They are real smart about the romance genre, they have a good mix of traditionally published and indie books, and you can look at the stuff you can preorder to keep a grip on that tiny thread of hope that the world will not end before you have a chance to read about your fave rake.

Madison Street Books

Mad Street Books had its grand opening just days before having to close up shop to the public due to COVID-19, but veteran bookseller Javier Ramirez (former manager of the Book Table) has a few tricks up his sleeve. He and co-owner May Mollman have posted the following: “Check out our website, madstreetbooks.com, for all of your book browsing and buying needs. Curbside pickup and free delivery available in the West Loop. $1 shipping nationally.” They also are offering a virtual toddler storytime!

Pilsen Community Books

Pilsen Community Books is a beloved neighborhood bookstore that offers new and used books and is under new ownership. According to their most recent Facebook update, they “remain closed to the public, but are offering curbside pickup and free delivery within Pilsen. You can also order books online at www.pilsencommunitybooks.com.”

Seminary Co-op Bookstores, including 57th Street Books

So! Hyde Park’s wonderful Seminary Co-op Bookstores is cancelling all events for the rest of March, but they are offering free standard shipping on orders up through April 15, which is neat-o. 57th Street Books, which is part of the co-op, is editor Ronny Khuri’s favorite go-to for kids’ books! Why? An unusually dedicated staff, amazing story times (and other events), and a seriously rich inventory. Even cooler, last year Seminary Co-op became the nation’s first not-for-profit bookstore. Boom!

Unabridged Books

Booklist editor Miriam Aronin’s family loves Unabridged Books here in Chicago, which lets her (4-year-old) daughter sit and be read to by the hour. She even takes out-of-town guests there to read with her!

Volumes Bookcafe

Once the childhood dream of sisters Rebecca and Kimberly, Volumes is now a Wicker Park staple. And notice that “cafe” in the name? They serve espresso drinks, baked goods, and beer and wine from local vendors, too. It’s basically a utopia, people. They’re also offering $2 shipping through April. Get thee to the website!

Women & Children First

With a special focus on feminist and kiddie lit, Women & Children First is vital to Chicago’s community. For $2 media mail shipping, curbside pickup opportunities (available from 12 to 5 p.m. central, seven days a week), and other online shopping opportunities, you know what to do: browse here.

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About the Author:

Briana Shemroske is Booklist's Marketing Associate. She graduated with a BA from Lake Forest College where she studied English Writing and Art History. In her free time she can be found eating cheeseburgers, frolicking with her schnoodle, Moritz, and feebly attempting to play board games. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Briana.

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