Up Close and Personal with the Fab Five
A Note About Our Mission
When we founded Friends & Fiction back at the beginning of the pandemic shutdown, one of our major goals was to support independent booksellers.
It still is.
Never could we have imagined then that seven months after our April 15 launch, we would have recorded nearly forty live episodes—or that independent bookstores would still be suffering so greatly. But they are—and they need your help more than ever.
The impact of the pandemic on bookstore sales has been drastic and terrible. According to the American Booksellers Association (ABA), more than one independent bookstore has closed each week since the pandemic began. In a poll conducted in July by the ABA, more than a third of booksellers reported that their sales were down 40 percent or more for the year so far. In a recent poll from Small Business Majority, a national organization of small businesses, more than a third of small business owners reported that their businesses were unlikely to survive past the next three months.
Even under perfect circumstances, bookstores are often teetering on the edge, with razor-thin profit margins. People don’t open bookstores because they want to get rich; they open them because they have a passion for books, because they want to foster community, because they want to give back, because they want to do good.
In other words, they’re the beating hearts of their local communities—and of our broader literary community as a whole. We can’t let them die. As the ABA's CEO Allison K. Hill said in a Los Angeles Times op-ed, “Where we spend our money this holiday season will determine the communities we find ourselves in come 2021.”
So this holiday season, even if you’re shopping elsewhere too, please consider going the extra mile to make at least one purchase (maybe even more!) from an independent bookseller. It could make an enormous difference—and it could truly help save the literary world as we know it.
The good news is that it’s easier than ever to support indie stores. Each week on our show, we tell you about stores that are doing a great job with e-commerce—meaning that it’s nearly as easy to order from them as it is to order from a big online retailer. We even negotiate discounts from some of our favorite stores and share them with you each week. You can also check out indiebound.org to locate your local store, or you can make a purchase directly through bookshop.org, which has raised nearly $10 million for independent booksellers in 2020 alone.
It’s rare that we have a true opportunity to change the world through something as simple as making a different choice about where to spend our dollars. But this is one such chance. So when you’re doing your holiday shopping this year—or shopping for yourself in the future—we simply ask that you stop and consider the difference a few extra dollars could make in the life and livelihood of an independent bookseller. We know you can't shop local all the time--but even making a choice to do so sometimes could make a world of difference.
We’re so grateful to you—this holiday season and always—for being with us on this journey. Let’s continue to work together to help make our literary world a better place.
Mary Kay, Kristin, Kristy, Patti, and Mary Alice