Let’s be honest: coronavirus times can be pretty monotonous. Most days are eat, work, sleep, repeat, all in the same space. It’s boring. One of my favorite ways to break up the uniformity of everyday life during the pandemic is to grab a book. “But I’ve already read everything on my bookshelf twice,” you say? Have no fear! Here are five local, independently-owned bookstores that will have your back as long as you have theirs.
A Room of One’s Own
315 W. Gorham St.
A Room of One’s Own is one of Madison’s most beloved stores. In normal times, Room hosts frequent events and welcomes the whole community to browse their bursting shelves. Things are a little different during COVID, but they still have many avenues for you to get books and support them. Room is currently doing contact-free curbside pickup and shipping books (for an extra $3) to anywhere in the U.S. They have also partnered with Libro.fm for audiobooks and Kobo for ebooks. And if you’re having trouble deciding what to read and long to browse the bookstore again, A Room of One’s Own has quarantine book lists to give you some inspiration.
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GASP. This came in from @1cubsh8r after yesterday’s storm 🌈💜📚🌈 IS ROOM THE END OF THE RAINBOW?! . . . Always love to see photos folks share with us of the store and of books they got from Room. We miss seeing and interacting with you all. It’s weird to be a bookstore without book lovers. Every Monday were going to share a photo from a Room book lover. Email us your photos at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to see yours on our grid! ❤️💘📚💐 We miss you. . . . . . . #indiebookstore #independentbookstore #independentbookshops #independentbookshop #indiebookshop #indiebookstore #queer #queerowned #queerbookstore #feministbookstore #feminist #Blackliberation #BLM #Blacklivesmatter #madisonwi #bookstores #bookshops #bookstoresofinstagram #bookshopsofinstagram #booksbooksbooks #books #madison #shoplocal #shopsmall #queerpride #queerbooks #transownedbusiness #trans #nonbinary #gnc #genderqueer
Paul’s Book Store
670 State St.
Paul’s Book Store has been a Madison staple for over 65 years, and entering the shop is like being enveloped by a cozy blanket of pages and words. Although Paul’s closed for a brief period at the beginning of the pandemic, the store is now open again to masked customers. If you don’t feel comfortable going into the store itself, Paul’s also offers curbside pickup. Call ahead to tell them what you’re looking for.
The Book Deal
319 W. Beltline Hwy. #111
The Book Deal sells used books for under $4, making it a must-go for passionate book lovers. They only opened two years ago but did online book sales for six years prior. The physical store was established to make more connections with customers and address broader issues, such as the literacy crisis and achievement gaps that reading books can help with. For every book sold, they also give one away, making The Book Deal a philanthropic pursuit as well as a personal one.
During the pandemic, they also noticed the negative ramifications school closings were having on children. And so, in line with their social justice mission, they held a 5K giveaway in which they gave 4,000 books directly to caregivers and are working with teachers to distribute another thousand.
The book seller has been doing shipping and curbside pickup, and the physical store re-opened on May 23 by appointment only. “Everyone is navigating so much right now and we don’t take [customer] support for granted,” says co-owner Rick Jacobs. “We have the best customers and we miss seeing everybody.” Appointments are for 45 minutes and can include up to five people, and The Book Deal spaces the sessions in order to sanitize between customers. You can buy books and audio books online via Bookshop and Libro.fm.
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We just stocked a BUNCH of great fiction and want to share it with you! . Book your private reservation today! Link in bio . . . . . . #thebookdeal #books #bookstore #booksarebest #madisonwi #madisonwisconsin #wisconsin #wisconsinites #booknerd #usedbookstores #bookstagram #booksbooksbooks #usedbookstore #readmore #readmorebooks #bookworm #bookstorelife #booklovers #reading #bookaholic #bibliophile #bookish #igbooks #bookaddict
Frugal Muse Books
6682 Odana Rd.
Frugal Muse Books’s montra is that “a bookstore is only a reflection of its customers.” As a result, when COVID hit, the shop made sure to continue serving their clients, old and new. Frugal Muse is currently open with abbreviated store hours, but you can also schedule contactless curbside pickup or have your orders delivered. Customers can also support Frugal Muse by purchasing gift certificates, which never expire. “There have been people who, while house cleaning, have come across one of our gift certificates issued 20 years ago and have been delighted to discover it’s still good,” founder Dave Danielson says.
Mystery to Me
1683 Monroe St.
As you may guess from the name, Mystery to Me curates a large selection of books from the mystery genre. But if you’re not a mystery book lover, have no fear: Mystery to Me knows how to feed the book-obsessed souls of all its customers. “My big thing about having a small business is to continue to exceed customer expectations,” says owner Joanne Berg.
Typically, a large part of the bookstore’s business is hosting events. They aren’t able to do this in-person currently, but they’ve pivoted to virtual events with success. (The next one is on Aug. 5: a virtual author visit by Karen Dionne to talk about The Wicked Sister, her new book.)
Mystery to Me is currently doing curbside pickup and mail orders and hopes to open up browsing again in mid-August, depending on COVID circumstances. They’re only delivering books straight from their shelves — but if you want something they don’t have, you can order it through their Bookshop and they will still receive 25% of the sales. “Our customer support has been amazing,” says Berg. “I couldn’t ask for more.”
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Book of the Day 📚 We think this cover pretty much says it all, but just in case…This book is for the person in your life who really really likes learning about Covid-19 ☺️ Give is a call or email if you’d like to get this one today! #independentbookstore #covid19 #readyourworld