Next up in our Father’s Day Gift Guide Pandemic Edition ™ , we’re sharing Father’s Day gifts that support indie bookstores. Because investing in our local brick-and-mortar bookshops now, means they’ll still be around when it’s safe to wander their aisles and breathe in that intoxicating book musk later.

(I know it’s not just me.)

According to Indiebound, for every $100 you spend at a local store, $52 stays in your community. That means more jobs for your community and more tax dollars for your town. Which I think is a cause the dads in my life would definitely stand behind. And surely, you can find something amazing for them, whether they consider themselves avid readers, or just like particular books here and there.

Be sure to get in touch with your local bookstore through email, phone, or their website if they’re not open. Guarantee they can find a way to get you a fabulous gift through contactless pick-up, delivery, or even through the USPS, which can use our support too, BTW.

On top of it all, indie bookstores always offer such fantastic gifts! Toss Marie Kondoism to the wind and stack those shelves. It’s allmost as satifying as a stroll through the new release aisle.

Related: 15 cool but practical Father’s Day gifts. Because they should still feel like gifts, ya know?


1. A t-shirt promoting his favorite bookshop 

7 awesome Father's Day gifts that support indie bookstores: Let him advertise his favorite black women writers in this cool tee from Sistah Scifi book shop.

If he’s missing those stacks too, let dad do some free PR for his favorite local shop while also looking #goodashell. I love this t-shirt featuring the names of black women writers from Sistah Scifi — yes, men can wear it, too — and this classic logo t-shirt from my beloved Square Books, which can delivery locally or ship anywhere. But check your own favorite indie bookstore, because plenty of them have their own merch. Talk about a statement tee.


2. A non-book gift from an indie bookstore: Mugs, puzzles, games, journals…

Awesome Father's Day gifts that support indie bookstores | Give Dad a mug and some coffee to enjoy with his book. We love this one from Powell's in Portland.

You don’t have to be a power reader to know that coffee pairs beautifully with a good read. At Powell’s in Portland, you’ll find this Read, Rise, Resist mug, complete with an inspiring quote from Heraclitus.It’s a perfect way to start the day, quarantined or otherwise. For extra points on your gift presentation, check to see if your store carries their own brew, like this coffee roast from Maloprop’s Books in Asheville, NC.

And of course, lots of indie bookshops have gift shops with all kinds of cool stuff — a new tote for those grocery runs, bookmarks and accessories, calendars, planners, and journals galore. I personally stan this black books matter lapel pin from black-owned Mahogany Books in D.C.

Oh…and puzzles! They’re experiencing such a big comeback in the Covid-19 era, and plenty of bookstores have the goods that you might not be finding on Amazon. In fact,  Seattle’s Elliot Bay Book Company lets you order a blind date with a 500 to 700-piece puzzle for a cool $20 which not only supports them, it gives him a fun surprise in another way.


3. A subscription to benefiting your local bookshop

Awesome Father's Day gifts that support indie bookstores | lets you support your local bookstore when you purchase audiobooks.

I was so stoked to discover the app, because it lets you purchase audiobooks online with the profits going right to your own local bookstore. The subscription is $14.99 a month and includes one audiobook each month of Dad’s choosing, plus a discounted rate on any additional audiobooks, should he be an avid listener-reader.

It’s fun to browse the staff recommendations from indie bookmongers all over the country, so be sure to take a look. You may even discover an awesome new indie bookstore you want to support from those recos.

4. A personalized book bundle from the experts at indie bookstores

Awesome Father's Day gifts that support indie bookstores | Let the staff at your favorite book shop customize a book bundle for dad, like this one from Parnassus Books in Nashville.

Online bookselling giants can’t hold a candle to the staff recommendations from indie bookstores. These pros know books! And while you can’t chat in person with your fellow literary lovers, you can still avail yourself of their expertise with a personalized book bundle, like the ones at Parnassus, in my hometown of Nashville.

I would search Indiebound to find an indie bookstore in your area you want to support, then check to see if they offer this service. Just leave a few notes on the kind of books Dad loves, set your budget, and wait for the goodies to come. Like Christmas in June! Only…it’s a Father’s Day gift.

Related: 15 cool but practical Father’s Day gifts for 2020


5. A virtual writing or reading class, or author workshop

A few of our favorite indie bookstores, like Politics & Prose, are able to offer terrific online programming these days. You’ll find everything from free author readings over Crowdcast, Zoom, Facebook or YouTube, to actual courses over a period of days or weeks that he may love.

I mean, Kurt Vonnegut & Science Fiction? Personal narrative writing? So cool! Sign him up, and be sure to gift him a little quiet and space for a few hours. He’ll love it.


6. A gift card to an indie bookshop. 

If you want to play it safe, of course you can grab a gift card and let Dad or Grandpa make his own choice when the stores open back up — or maybe he can even grab something now, online. Who knows, maybe he’ll end up with that Michelle Obama memoir you were considering for him after all.

Be sure to check out these ideas for how to make a gift card more special. You can also search online for a free printable gift card holder, or grab one at a local pharmacy in the card section. (Maybe an indie pharmacy?)


7. A donation in his name to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation 

If bookstores are close to Dad’s heart, consider a donation to BINC, which helps support independent booksellers with unexpected expenses. During the COVID-19 crisis, they’re helping with pandemic-related medical bills, loss of income, eviction prevention, and more. Supporting the booksellers who support our communities is always a good idea.

Top image: Tamarcus Brown via Unsplash