Social distancing. . .

. . . is not as easy as it sounds. I stepped outside for a short while today and looked around my little cul de sac; although there were cars in every driveway, the houses were completely closed up. No kids played outside, no dogs barked. I had intended to check on my next door neighbors, consisting of a married couple, the wife’s mother, and their four very young children. I was going to offer them some toilet paper if they needed it. (The finest gift a neighbor can give, am I right?) The sealed up house intimidated me so much, though, that I’m ashamed to say I grabbed my mail, turned around and walked back inside. I will keep an eye out for them and speak to them later.

We are, of course, practicing social distancing in the marketplace, which includes booksellers; Barnes & Noble just sent out an email outlining how they are adapting their hours and environment to accomodate the latest CDC guidelines. While I’m grateful for the letter and glad they’re still doing business, I am mindful of the plight of the independent bookseller, which I define as a bookseller not owned or operated by a larger corporation. Like any other small business owner, indie sellers don’t generally have resources to fall back on. They may have insurance for business interruption but I wouldn’t think claims are being paid immediately – that process takes time. Whether they receive any other assistance or not, cash flow will be a challenge in the short term as these folks struggle to make payroll.

That’s why I am going to feature a couple of independent booksellers right here. These sellers will either sell you ebooks or ship to you. We can have a real impact on their business if we choose to purchase from them – or any other independent bookseller. My friend Erin recommended all but one of them:

Books & Mortar – an independent bookseller in Grand Rapids MI. Here is their web site: – and here is how to order ebooks through them: “All you have to do is download the “MyMustReads” App and then buy your titles at” (This is from an announcement they made. You can also find them on Facebook.)

Chris’ Li’l Bookstore is also independent store, but the links for their books take you to their listings on Amazon or, for older or nonstandard titles, AbeBooks. Web site is

Dreamhaven Books is not local, but they offer a package made foCare Package that would delight any reader: for $10.19 ($2.50 for the books, $7.50 for shipping and $.19 sales tax) they ship you about 2.5 lbs of slightly used paperback books, which they will curate based on your input. (In other words, you chose the genre(s) they ship, or just ask for a random selection.) If you struggle to choose your next reads, this is your solution! Find them at

Schuler Books and Music in Grand Rapids is my contribution to this list; they also have an Okemos MI location and a sister store in Ann Arbor called Nicolas Books. Schuler Books offers new and used books for all ages as well as ebooks and audio books. You can order from

It’s great to see that we have alternatives to walking into a bookstore – and we can support independent booksellers while practicing safe book buying. Stay well everyone!

One response to “Social distancing. . .”

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