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It is unfortunate that the necessary measures we are all taking to stop spread of coronavirus – leaving the house only for essential food supplies, to exercise once a day, for medical appointments and to go to and from work if absolutely required – are the opposite of what independent bookshops pride themselves on offering to their communities.

And yet in response, up and down the country, indies are already coming up with new ways to run their businesses and serve customers during the unusual and unprecedented world we find ourselves in, from offering free home delivery services to migrating book clubs online.

In times of crisis, we have to think of new ways to look out for each other, and the book community is no exception. If you're looking to stock up on reading material for the difficult weeks and months ahead, you can find details of your local bookshop using this search tool from the Booksellers Association.

Penguin Random House will also be doing all we can to support and promote indie bookshops throughout the crisis, so below is a list of some of the great local initiatives we have heard about from across the UK. This list will be regularly updated, and if you'd like to suggest a bookshop, please tweet us or email on editor@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.

Where: Books Upstairs, Dublin, Ireland

What: This sweet little bookshop in the Irish capital is putting together specially curated book bundles to help readers through the lockdown. Just tell them a theme you're interested in, from feminism to fiction, poetry to Irish history, and staff will select three books they think you'll like and post them out. 

Where: Alderburgh Bookshop, Suffolk

What: Located near Ipswich, the Alderburgh bookshop is taking orders of one book at a time. But with around 40,000 books in stock, chances are they'll have what you want.

Where: Steyning Bookshop, Steyning, West Sussex

What: They're offering to anyone who's stuck at home in Steyning or surrounding villages a free door-to-door delivery for free, or for a small charge if further afield. One of the shop's book group members has even volunteered to deliver on her bicycle. They offer book recommendations over the phone or email and have a useful newsletter, too.

Where: Burley Fisher Books, Haggerston, London

What: If you're self-isolating in Hackney, east London, send an email telling them what you need and they'll send you a payment link before posting the book out to you. They've also now teamed up with contemporary fiction and essay publisher Fitzcarraldo Editions to expand their mail order capacity.

Where: The Book Hive, Norwich, Norfolk

What: Not only is the Norwich-based indie offering free postage to anywhere in the UK, but it's selling 'self-isolation book packs' to anyone stuck at home. All you do is choose a theme (i.e. fiction, poetry, non-fiction etc.), tell them the kind of books you like and they'll send you five hand-picked books to keep you busy in lonely times. One pack costs £45, free delivery. It's also doing a lucky dip, where readers can place an order and will then be sent a paperback recommended by the team at The Book Hive.

Where: Little Box of Books, online

What: Normally, this husband-and-wife-run book delivery service sends books boxes of inclusive and representative children’s books to schools and families to 'help children better understand the world and their place in it.' But their 'bumper boxes', that include more than 10 titles, are becoming increasingly popular with parents foreseeing a long period at home with kids. See their website for details on how to order, or follow them on Twitter.

Where: Mostly Books, Abington, Oxfordshire

What: The team at Mostly Books is continuing to take orders, and will arrange postal delivery for a flat fee of £3 (apart from on large orders).

The Stripey Badger

The Stripey Badger bookshop is throwing in a complimentary scone baked fresh in their kitchen with every home-delivery order. Copyright of The Stripey Badger

Where: LRB Bookshop, Central London

What: This bookstore run by the famed literary magazine of the same name is taking orders through its website and by email, and will post whatever books you need.

Where: Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham

What: This shop specialises in cityscape and landscape, politics, fiction and poetry, LGBT, counterculture, international writing as well as magazines and journals. It is taking orders via email, and says it can supply any book in print.

Where: Gwisgo Bookworm, Aberaeron, Wales

What: A true community bookshop where people often pop in just for a chat while waiting for a bus (the bus stop is opposite) if not to buy a book. They want people to know they can still get in touch by phone or email, even just to chat if they don't want to order a book at that time. We will deliver free of charge wherever possible and with a minimum charge for more distant deliveries. Alternatively, orders can be left in an agreed place to avoid direct contact. 

Where: Kenilworth Books, Kenilworth, Warwickshire

What: For anyone stuck at home and bored, Kenilworth Books is sharing the work authors and illustrators are doing, from drawing workshops to Q&A sessions, during this period on its social media channels.

Where: The Stripey Badger, Grassington, North Yorkshire.

What: This gorgeous little bookshop, cafe and kitchen in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales is taking orders and offering free postage on orders over £25. 

Where: Own It! storytelling lifestyle brand, online

What: A storytelling lifestyle brand telling tales across books, music, art and film, Own It! says if you buy a book from their website, they'll gift another book to any person of your choice.


Round Table Books donates stock to foodbanks so that hard-up families can pick up free books for their children to read. Copyright of Round Table Books

Where: Chicken and Frog, Brentwood, Essex

What: This children's bookshop is running live storytime sessions on Instagram and Facebook on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and is taking orders by email for home deliveries.

Where: Sevenoaks Bookshop, Sevenoaks, Kent

What: This Sevenoaks bookshop has ramped up its online delivery service to help stuck-at-home readers 'journey wherever [their] heart desires with a good book'. It's offering delivery within a small area (customers can check on the website if they're eligible). If you're outside the delivery area, you can email the shop, which will organise delivery from its wholesalers if the books you want are in stock.

Where: Falmouth Bookseller, Falmouth, Cornwall

What: 'Today we are being positive,' tweeted the Falmouth Bookseller. They're bolstering their online shop to send out orders made by phone while they're feathering their online shop with more staff recommendations daily. 

Where: St Ives Books, St Ives, Cornwall

What: Family-run St Ives Books will send great reads to anyone in the area who can't leave their home during the crisis. Just visit their online shop and place your order. 

Where: Padstow Bookseller, Padstow, Cornwall

What: This Cornish bookseller is taking orders via its online shop, email and through its social channels, and will arrange delivery. Check its website for regular updates.

Where: The Big Green Bookshop, Hastings, East Sussex

What: The Big Green Bookshop has garnered a strong online following for its #buyastrangerabook initiative, in which followers are offered the chance to either ask for a book or offer to buy one for somebody else. Such random acts of kindness seem all the more important as we hurtle towards Corona lockdown. And on the BGB's thread, some readers are already offering to buy NHS workers books as a thanks for their work so far in the crisis.

Where: Westwood Books, Sedbergh, Cumbria

What: This picture postcard of a second-hand bookshop is offering to post out books or gifts ordered over phone or email by anyone stuck at home during the Coronavirus crisis. They'll even send photos of items to help with buying decisions or just talk through ideas on the phone.

Where: Booka Bookshop, Oswestry, Shropshire

What: For anyone in the Shropshire area who's stuck at home and in need of a good read, staff at the Booka Bookshop will deliver free to your door, or for a small charge if you live further afield. 

If you're not sure where your closest indpendent bookshop is, The Booksellers Association has a handy tool, here.

Any you'd like us to add? Email editor@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.

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