Support Independent Bookstores

Independent Bookstores Matter Because People Matter.

If you’ve found your way to this page, there’s a good chance that you already believe in the indie bookstore cause, but if you’re new to the party—welcome! And thank you for spending some time in our corner of the internet. We hope we can help you learn something new about the book world we love so much and how readers like you can help keep it alive and well.

Store Front

Make the Switch

The Letterbox

Looking for a book subscription? The Letterbox brings books from our shelves to your doorstep. You can choose themed selections (think Beach Reads, Crime, and Fantasy) or a custom selection (My Letterbox) curated to your specific reading profile. The Letterbox delivers a handpicked book, a Camilla Goods bookmark, and personal note to your mailbox each month telling you why we chose what we did. It’s the happiest kind of mail.

Bookshop.org

Bookshop is like Amazon, but for independent bookstores. By setting up a Bookshop account, you can buy your books online while still supporting your favorite indie bookstores. You get great *discounted* books delivered to your door or eReader; we get a portion of the sale. It’s a win/win! Bookshop even gives a larger portion of profits to the authors and publishers than other purchasing sites, meaning Bookshop really helps all the people involved in making the books you love. *We would like to emphasize: Bookshop.org is a separate company from us, so when you purchase through them, you leave our site and we have no hand in the sale, packaging, or shipping.

Libro.fm

Libro.fm makes it possible for you to buy audiobooks through M. Judson Booksellers! Think of it as Audible for independent bookstores. The same selections are available, and it works the same way but, like Bookshop, it’s designed to support indie bookstores. You just set up a Libro.fm account and choose which audio book(s) you’d like to download. (And yes, you get to keep your Audible books even if you switch.) All our staff have Libro accounts, so if you have questions, just ask!

ABA and SIBA

The American Booksellers Association, or ABA, is a national not-for-profit trade organization that works with booksellers and industry partners to ensure the success and profitability of independent book retailers, and to assist in expanding the community of the book.

ABA supports indie bookstores as community anchors, places which serve a unique role in promoting the open exchange of ideas, enriching the cultural life of communities, and creating economically vibrant neighborhoods. Learn more at bookweb.org.

The Southern Independent Bookseller Alliance, or SIBA, is a trade association which represents hundreds of bookstores and thousands of booksellers in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and Mississippi.

SIBA exists to empower, promote, and celebrate independent, privately held, brick and mortar, commercially zoned bookstores in the Southern region. Learn more at sibaweb.com.
Independent Book Store

What are “indie” bookstores?

Independent or “indie” bookstores are brick and mortar bookstores independently owned by people invested in the local community. Beyond being just a place to buy books, indie bookstores often function as a place in the community where people can gather to discuss and share ideas, learn and grow as people, and connect with others. They reflect the community they’re in, offering glimpses into the local interest, reading habits, and culture. Additionally, indie bookstores are where the illusive literary industry puts its feet to the ground. Authors can meet their readers, booksellers can work with publishers and distributors, new writers can learn and make connections. Indie bookstores are the place where things happen: for everyone from the bestselling author to the very new reader.

How are indie bookstores different from big businesses?

The main difference and short answer is people. Independently owned bookstores are owned by people you’ll meet at the store, people who read, people who want others to love reading. Indie bookstores value all the people involved in the journey of a book, from start to finish, making the entire industry a healthier, more fruitful place. Big businesses simply do not have the same priorities in mind.

That being said, we know we can’t hold this conversation without talking about Amazon. There’s no way we can’t, and we’re all about being a safe space for these kinds of hard, touchy conversations. We don’t want to shame anyone for using Amazon, simply raise awareness and explain the difference in how they go about selling books. Bookstores should always be a place where people can gather information, and then make their own decisions.

The reality is that Amazon offers a greater selection of books at faster paces and lower prices than independent bookstores are able to. This is widely due to the size of the company, the access to warehouses all over the world, and the ability to cut costs and corners. Physical bookstores simply can’t get books from anywhere in the world that fast or that cheaply. When you order a book, it has to go from the distributing warehouse to the bookstore, and then to you. If it’s out of stock, it has to go through the printing process at the publishers, then to the warehouse, then the bookstore, then you. When you just look at that book-getting process, we get it. But here’s where the difference really shows: Amazon’s recommendations are based on reviews and online sales and algorithms. Indie bookstore recommendations are based on the booksellers in your community who love to read, anything and everything, and will get to know you and your family and your friends, and help you find books that you never thought you’d love but do.

Amazon tried to rival this experience with physical stores, opening several around the same time that M. Judson opened her doors. But 7 years later, we are growing, they are closing, and here’s why: Amazon’s stores were reviewed as disjointed and off-putting, because they weren’t created by a human. The top ranking books, whatever they were, lined the shelves in the order the algorithms placed them. Nothing was personal, nothing was arranged according to how humans actually look at bookshelves. People walked in, and it didn’t feel like a bookstore.

Bookstores have always been and should always be more than just a collection of the top ranking books at any given time. They are living, breathing, growing, and evolving parts of both a community and industry. The machine of big businesses like Amazon just can’t replicate the humanity that indie bookstores embody.

What difference do indie bookstores make?

Because indie bookstores focus on people, they make a huge difference in the lives of all involved in the journey of a book. The author, editor, publisher, distributor, and bookseller all work for years to get books into the hands of readers. With the support of indie bookstores, authors are surrounded by a community of people who are invested in their work; editors, publishers, and distributors are compensated fairly; booksellers are able to better serve the readers in their community; and finally, readers like you get personalized, human-touched experiences and recommendations. Books, after all, are about life. Indie bookstores keep that human experience and connection part of the business.

At M. Judson alone, we host dozens of authors every year, giving them a chance to meet the booksellers who are selling the book they worked so hard on, as well as the readers they wrote for in the first place. At the same time, baby writers hoping to be published someday can come and make connections, meet other writers, meet readers, and learn about the industry they want to enter. Oftentimes, it is these types of connections made in person at indie bookstores that help writers climb the bestsellers lists, help even newer writers find the help they need to get started, and help readers continue to discover books they can’t put down. When the people and the books come first, everyone wins.

What difference do customers make by shopping at indie bookstores?

Like we’ve said, independent bookstores value people more than the profit margin, but that doesn’t mean the profit margin doesn’t matter. In order to stay open, we have to be able to pay all the people involved fairly; it’s just good business. But since we won’t compromise on quality to do that, every dollar matters. Each step you make to support indie bookstores over big business sellers ensures that more great books continue to be made by really great and passionate people, and put into the hands of readers like you. You’re the ones who keep us open. You’re the ones who keep us going. You’re the reason we’re here. And that’s why, when you drop a stack of twelve books at the register and joke about how you shouldn’t be spending that much money on books, we look you in the eye and tell you that it’s an investment. Because when you shop at your local indie bookstore, you’re investing not just in a great book, but in that author, their team, the literary industry, and your community. You’re keeping the whole thing going. Thank you.

Local Authors