In a world of Amazon and other superstores, shopping small has become increasingly difficult. Amazon has made sure that they are often the best deal on the market, so many people may go for price over ethics. Even Barnes & Noble, which was once considered a mega-corporation to many, is now being welcomed as supporting the “little guy” simply because it’s a brick-and-mortar store. However, for those looking to support independent booksellers, there are many small bookstores in Boston that students can check out when they need a book or a gift for a loved one.
For those on a budget and also looking to support a local community, check out Frugal Bookstore in Roxbury. Just a half-hour bus ride away, all UMass Boston students can promote literacy within the Roxbury community, as well as grab great deals on new books. Frugal Bookstore also has the ability to order special books that they don’t have in stock, as long as they are currently in print. While their selection isn’t as extensive as that of larger bookstores or online sellers, shoppers can know they’re giving their money to a community their friends live in, rather than a big business.
While the publishing world has been dominated by the voices and stories of white, cisgender, and straight men for centuries, that doesn’t mean bookstores have to be too. The goal of All She Wrote Books in Somerville is to provide books written only by female, gay, and non-binary authors. The bookstore, located at Assembly Row, offers titles spanning all genres; ranging from a section amplifying black writers, to a section dedicated to breaking the stigma around sex work and sex workers, to one amplifying people with disabilities, to much more mainstream sections like Romance, Non-Fiction and Young adult. This bookstore is a great place to find books that may not be amplified or published at other bookstores, and students may be able to find their new favorite author.
For those looking to buy books and empower teens, head over to More Than Words. The bookstore, which strives to give responsibilities and jobs in the online store and retail spaces to young adults who are in foster care, homeless, out of school or involved in court, sells a variety of new and used books, plus More Than Words specialty vinyl, gifts and apparel featuring phrases such as “Read Black Authors” and “Proud Reader” on a variety of merchandise. More Than Words is also accepting donations of gently used books and clothing, for those looking to clean out their closets or shelves. The bookstore’s atmosphere is incredibly warm and cozy, making it the perfect space to pick up a new read.
While all small stores have their quirks, few are as recognizable as Papercuts Bookstore in Jamaica Plain. The bookstore is incredibly recognizable with its bright green exterior and lavender door, and its interior is just as welcoming as the exterior. Papercuts sells most mainstream genres, such as Young Adult, Historical Fiction, and Romance, as well as a variety of gifts and novelties like puzzles, bags, tarot decks, and stuffed animals. Papercuts’ physical store is currently not open to the public due to the crash of two cars in the building on April 27, however, they can still be supported through their Bookstore page. Their Bookstore page also features a collection of books for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, for those looking for reading recommendations throughout May (1).
In a fast-paced and hectic world, however, finding the time to go to a bookstore in person can be difficult. Online shopping can be much more convenient for many people, as well as a necessity for people with disabilities who cannot go outside. Bookshop.org is a way to help independent bookstores, especially local bookstores, sell books to customers electronically as an alternative to sites like Amazon. Although shoppers are not required to buy from a select local store, it is an option, including several on this list, and proceeds will always go to independent bookstores. There’s also a bit of a discount, but not as much as stores that can afford to cut prices, so shoppers can save a little money. Bookshop.org takes quite long to deliver books, so those in a hurry might want to opt for in-person options.
Whether student buyers plan to buy online or in person, shopping at small booksellers can be as easy as choosing big retailers like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. While these may cost a bit more monetarily, the impact on the community, along with the bit of good karma from local purchases, can be all the more rewarding. The next time someone needs a book or a gift, try a small bookstore before deciding on a chain.