Bookstores in Philadelphia that are “open” during COVID-19

As would be the case, I just found a social media post from my favorite Anarchist co-op bookshop saying they’re going virtual. So, not a full 30 minutes from posting, I’m already updating the list. Weee!

The world feels like it might be ending and I haven’t been inside a bookstore since late February, when I hopped the El to Fishtown after a nail appointment with my Nail Wizard to check out a new addition to the Philadelphia indie bookshop scene. Unfortunately, that is a sentence I don’t know that I’ll be able to write again for a very, very long time—a sad thing, because I miss both my Nail Wizard and the ability to take public transit without feeling like I’m going to catch the literal plague.

The one fortunate thing about all of this is that despite all nonessential retail being closed throughout PA, most of the bookstores that I love are open for online orders! I may not be able to set foot inside them and browse, but many of them have been hard at work listing and shipping books they have in stock. Others still are able to fulfill orders through distribution centers, and yet others more are participating in Bookshop.org’s affiliate program.

I have a few favorite bookshops around the country, but I’m obviously a lot biased towards Philadelphia bookshops, being that I call this city home and rarely venture outside of its margins. After browsing a very incomplete list put together by another, much larger book blog that encompassed a few stores in each state, I felt like I really had to put together a list that focused solely on supporting Philly bookshops. This is going to be by no means a complete list because even I can’t keep track of all the bookstores that pop into existence seemingly overnight around here. I’m only going to list the stores that have a visible online shopping presence and will try to update as restrictions change.

A

A Novel Idea – A Novel Idea is a newer shop in East Passyunk, super cute and a big supporter of small press publications. Their “Order” page is sparse, but will allow you to order one of the owner’s books, submit an inquiry directly to the shop, and also send you to their Bookshop.org affiliate page.

B

Big Blue Marble Bookstore – You can shop a limited selection of books in their online store at any time, or you can call and ask if they have something in stock and pay over the phone. They also have an affiliate store on Bookshop.org.

Bindlestiff Books – Unfortunately, it appears that one of the coolest bookstores in West Philly does not have an online shop presence at the moment. I’m still including them because they are taking pre-orders for Suzanne Collins’ new book (release date is May 19).

Brickbat Books – In this day and age, it feels like social media has taken over our lives. If you want more books in your IG feed and love used books, you can buy from Brickbat via their IG feed. If you see something you like, shoot them an email, which they provide at the end of every post. If something is sold before you get to it, you’ll see it noted in the description.

G

Giovanni’s Room/PAT @ Giovanni’s Room – Looking for a good, queer read? Welcome to Philadelphia, home of the USA’s oldest operating queer bookstore. I may need a fact-check on that last statement, but I don’t need one to tell you that you can order from them directly.

H

Hakim’s Bookstore – The shop focuses on African American Studies and has a large inventory available online. Some books are new, others are used.

Harriett’s Bookshop – This was the last bookstore I got to set foot into this year. Brand spanking new, this space largely focuses on WOC writers and artists. They’re shipping what they have in-stock at the store.

The Head and the Hand – The Head and the Hand is a nonprofit bookstore and independent publisher. You can order directly through their website for the books they publish or through their shop on Bookshop.org for everything else.

Head House Books – Because they are unable to offer in-person deliveries currently, they are offering free shipping on all orders over $35 from their website.

House of Our Own – This used bookstore is currently able to fulfill orders through their Biblio.com page. The selection is small and pricey for a used bookstore, but it’s worth it to poke around and see if something wild and unexpected catches your eye.

J

Joseph Fox Bookshop – While you can shop through their website, it appears that Joseph Fox is relying mainly on direct-from-distributor order fulfillment for now.

N

Neighborhood Books – The physical location is a used bookstore, but they have a Bookshop.org page you can buy new books through.

P

Penn Book Center/People’s Books and Culture – I’m not 100% certain that they’re fulfilling online orders right now, but they have a small selection of books on their online shop. I would definitely shoot them an email before ordering, though.

S

The Spiral Bookcase – Another favorite of mine! This shop focuses more on the esoteric and occult and is also a used bookstore. You can order directly from their website, though many books are one-off offerings and you’ll see a lot of sold out titles. I check in with them every few days because they’re always updating what they have to offer.

U

Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books – The café is closed, but you can shop for physical books through their indielite.org or for audiobooks from libro.fm.

W

New Wooden Shoe Books and RecordsWooden Shoe is an Anarchist co-op bookshop that is currently testing the online ordering waters. Go to their Airtable order page and follow the link to their inventory to find what they have. They can bike courier your order or send it through the post.

Pennsylvania’s Stay at Home order has been extended until June 4th. While we’re all hoping that this will be a true end-date, there are going to be several restrictions still in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Some stores may be able to open physical locations again, or be able to provide curb-side pickup. If and when this happens, I’ll come back and update this list to add the information along with any stores that are able to reopen in some capacity. In the meantime, I hope you find some satiation through this list!

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