Booksellers Connect With Customers Through Virtual Events

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As readers across the country practice social distancing and independent bookstores enter various states of closure, booksellers are finding new ways to stay connected with their customers and communities.

Below are examples of how indie booksellers are using various online tools to stay connected virtually to their communities and retain sales where they can. Stores that need to cancel an in-person author event are encouraged to ask the author’s publicist about coordinating a virtual event instead. Booksellers can also reach out to local teachers to collaborate on virtual lessons or activities for kids. As a reminder, stores should always keep an eye on how they can use these events to create sales; always include buy buttons for the books being featured.


  • The Poisoned Pen (Scottsdale, AZ): Conversation between owner Barbara Peters and author Harlan Coben about his new book. They talked via Skype and simultaneously streamed on Facebook Live, then they answered questions sent in from the video audience. Video was posted the following day on the store’s YouTube channel.
  • Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse (Santa Fe, NM): A virtual book event conducted on Zoom and streamed on Facebook Live, “Night of Crime” featured authors Jake Anderson and Lisa Sandlin, who discussed writing true crime vs. fictional crime.
  • Politics & Prose (Washington, DC): The store is using Crowdcast to stream author conversations, then posting videos on the store’s website for later viewing. P&P adds a purchase button on-screen or charges to watch the events and attendees receive an access code.
  • Boogie Down Books (Bronx, NY): Hosting virtual middle grade and Well-Read Black Girl book clubs via Zoom.  
  • The Strand (New York, NY): Sharing author events on its YouTube channel.
  • Caprichos Books (Bel Air, MD): Hosting an online craft time using Be.Live and streaming to Facebook Live.



For more information, visit the Resources and Tips for Creating Virtual Events page on BookWeb, which includes video sharing platforms, tips for live-streaming, virtual story time guidelines, and more. Additionally, the Author-Hosted Virtual Events and Downloadable Digital Event Kits page on BookWeb details ongoing daily or weekly online events conducted by authors and illustrators. Stores can share these events and link to their website to buy the featured books.

Booksellers can visit the dedicated Coronavirus Resources for Booksellers page on BookWeb to find critical information about immediate steps to take; support being offered by publishers, wholesalers, and vendors; ABA’s initiatives during the outbreak; opportunities for financial assistance; and more.

Booksellers are also invited to join an open forum to discuss their questions and concerns and share support and ideas about the COVID-19 outbreak with colleagues. The “COVID-19 Open Forum” meetings will be held via Zoom every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET. Join the Zoom calls here; the meeting ID is 749 778 583. ABA’s membership team will moderate the forum.