How to buy books online without Amazon

It's more important than ever to support small bookstores while they're forced to keep their doors closed.

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With customers stuck in their homes, brick-and-mortar bookstores are scrambling to move operations online and stay afloat.

So we put together a guide on how to help them from your couch.


The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all indoors. Because it’s the de facto online retailer for just about everything, Amazon is profiting from its newfound essential nature while small businesses fall by the wayside.



CEO Jeff Bezos' estimated wealth increase from January to May 2020.

Business Insider

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Books are where Amazon started. But the conglomerate’s dominion over online shopping has taken Amazon's book section from convenience to monopoly.

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Order from a local bookstore

The best way to support your local bookshops is to buy from them directly. Many have taken their operations online, even if they didn't have an online shop before the pandemic.

Check Indiebound's extensive listings. Or, if you have a local store but can't find it online, take a few minutes to dust off that phone app and call it, if all else fails.

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Indiebound's entire mission is to support small booksellers, and it's been doing so since 2008.

Unlike other sites on this list, Indiebound's web presence is mostly an aggregator.

The site's search engine links to listings on local bookstores' websites, as well as to sites for buying eBooks and audiobooks.



For every purchase made on Bookshop, 10 percent of the sale goes into an earnings pool. That pool is divided among local booksellers every six months.

Shops can also create their own pages on the site, which users can then find via a location-based search. All proceeds from those sales go straight to the respective sellers.


Raised for local bookstores by Bookshop as of mid-May 2020.



ThriftBooks is the place to go for used books. The company buys up excess library books and surplus thrift store stock, sorts them for quality, and lists them for sale on its website.

There's really nothing better when it comes to finding inexpensive books. Many on the site are under five bucks — even with shipping that ends up being less than retail to buy it new.

Thriftbooks / NYTimes

“We are taking garbage [and] running it through a very sophisticated salvage process in our warehouses, to create or find or discover products people want, and then we sell them at a very, very cheap price."

Mike Ward, ThriftBooks president

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Better World Books

Every time you purchase a book from Better World Books, the company donates another book to an organization such as Feed the Children or Books for Africa. BWB also funds literacy programs and grants.

BWB helps the environment by ensuring unused books are re-used or recycled. The site even has the option to pay a few cents extra to carbon-balance your order.

Places BWB has shipped books to, as of May 2020.

Okay, you're prepared now. Go forth and buy books!

(Just not on Amazon. Jeff Bezos really doesn't need your money. But indie booksellers really do.)


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