Independent bookshops start to close as coronavirus advice comes in

Independent bookshops start to close as coronavirus advice comes in

Independent bookshops across the country are closing their doors to protect staff and customers from the coronavirus outbreak.

Many indie shops are encouraging customers to support their businesses and place orders online. Delivery services have also been ramped up across the board, with some shops delivering free of charge in local areas. 

Other bookshops have been offering free books for those in need, calls for people in isolation so they aren't lonley as well as sending hand-picked care packages out. 

Update 30th March: Wholesalers Gardeners and Hive have suspended new orders due to concerns over worker safety and unprecedented demand. As a result, many indies have also had to suspend orders as they cannot guarantee supply. Read the full story here

The Booksellers Association is a huge support behind indies as they move toward more home delivery methods and better online ordering. They are calling on customers and the trade to rally behind retailers and support bookshops, as the coronavirus outbreak hits the hightstreet. BA m.d. Meryl Halls said: "we want to remind consumers that they can still use their local bookshop to buy books even if they are practising social distancing."

Halls added: "We are very keen for publishers and authors to help reinforce this message too- not to default to Amazon as the de facto buying option, but to link to bookshops and to reiterate the importance of shopping locally, supporting their local community and emphasising the contribution of bookshops to safe, nourishing and mutually supportive neighbourhoods." Read the full story here.  

See our guide below on which bookshops across the country are closing or offering delivery services admist the coronavirus outbreak.

South England
North England
The Midlands

Please email any information on closures and changes to Tamsin Hackett.


Belgravia Books- The shop is closed to the public but remains open for online ordering. Shipping is also free to the whole of the UK!

Bookmarks- The "largest socialist bookshop in Britain" has closed its doors. The mailing department is open and in a tweet they confirmed they "will be live streaming events in the near future" and "doing readings from books online". 

Bookseller Crow- The shop has closed for the safety of staff and customers. Orders can still be made via their website.

BrOOK's Pinner- The shop is closed to the public, but like many others they are still taking orders and working behind closed doors. The shop is also running a fundraiser to buy books for the children of key workers in their local area! Details on how to donate can be found on their Twitter page. 

Dulwich Books- For now, the store remains open to the public, but like many other shops they are offering free local delivery. They plan to keep in regular contact with customers via their newsletter, sharing updates about the situation, information about new books, book reviews and are happy to make recommendations.

Cathy Slater from Dulwich Books also added: "we greatly appreciate all the work the BA are doing for booksellers, and value their support and advice."

The London Review Bookshop- The bookshop closed on the 17th March until further notice. Originally, the shop planned to stay open by postponing all events and late shopping evenings, but reducing trading hours and "limiting the number of customers in the shop at any one time and instituting extra cleaning measures." 

The shop also said on Twitter that they will be announcing new bookselling and digital publishing initiatives this week, to "provide diversion in the coming months."

For now, the paper is continuing to be published as normal.

Newham Bookshop- The shop is closed until further notice. The shop is taking orders and have volunteers who will deliver books by bike. They are also offering to post books to those further away. 

Owl Bookshop, Hackney- Gary, Heather and the rest of the team will be behind closed doors taking orders for delivery or collection from the shop. If you are self-isolatin gand live wihtin a 20 minute walk of the shop you can contact them by email and they will arange to deliver your books to you. They can also post books further afield (for free if the order is over £40). 

Pages of Hackney- The bookshop tweeted this morning: "Due to the need for social distance at this crucial time we sadly feel it is right to close the shop until the end of March." Instead, Pages of Hackney are encouraging orders and offering free home delivery in Hackney by Bike or can post UK wide. 

Round Table Books, Brixton- The shop is closed for the safety of customers and staff. The shop is taking orders online and tweeted: "we're learning fast- adding features daily. Let us know what you need, there's no manual for this." Update 30th March: The shop has now had to close completely as it's supplier has stopped operations. Any orders made before 30th March will be fulfilled. 

Rye Books, East Dulwich- The shop is open as usual and offering free local delivery. Get in touch with them via their Twitter to order and show your support. 

Village Books, Dulwich- The bookshop is closed to the public but they are trying to supply books at a distance. They are still offering advice and recommendations, with orders to be placed via email. If you are self-isolating they are able to deliver books wihtin walking distance of the shop, but ask customers to be patient with delivery times. 

All events have been cancelled for the coming weeks and customers will recieve a full refund.

West End Lane Books, West Hampstead- After 72 hours of inaction last week, the shop is now offering a full sales and postal service via email. They are active on social media with reviews, recommendations and virtual events! Starting with a live Twitter Q&A with Lucy Atkins and Sarah Vaughan. Update: The shop is unable to fulfill new orders as its wholesaler has now closed. Staff will do their best to honour orders which have already been placed.

South England

Aardvark Books, Herefordshire- In light of the announcement about school closures, they have decided to close to the public. Like many others, the shop will continue to sell online via their website and will take orders via email, phone and social media.

Aldeburgh Bookshop, Suffolk- The shop remains open for the time being and they are offering free delivery in Aldeburgh and adjacent postcodes. Their events, launches and book club are cancelled, but themed reading lists will be available online. The shop has cleverly teamed up with local wine merchant Richard Kihl Ltd to co-ordinate deliveries! The perfect combination if you are thinking of joining a virtual book event

Bell Bookshop, Henley- The book shop remains open for now. They are offering to post books across the country and hope to continue this service even if the physical shop has to close. They ask customers to call or email and they will help in anyway they can. 

Big Green Bookshop, Hastings- The shop remains open and encourages poeple to make orders via email or Twitter. They are also still running their Big Green Bookshop monthly subscription service.

Coles Books, Bicester- Coles Books has begun offering free local delivery during the outbreak. Free delivery applies to Bicester and surrounding villages. You can call the shop or email to place your order. 

Devizes Books, Wiltshire- Whilst remaining open, the shop is also accepting orders by phone and email, they will not be charging for delivery service at this time. They urge those who are in self-isolation to take advantage of this service. 

Haslemere Bookshop, Haslemere- After monitoring the situation closely the bookshop has decided to close its doors to walk-in browsers. They will be coming up with "new and creative ways to help the community during this difficult time." Until the website is open they encourage customers to call or email the shop to order. They are offering free delivery within the Haslemere area and charge a small fee to send books further afield. They can also offer curbside pick up at the shop for urgent requests. The shop has been overwhelmed with messages of support and orders since they made the announcement. 

Mr B's EmporiumBath- Mr B continues to trade. The booksellers also continue to make recommendations and take orders over the phone and online, as well as compiling book lists on themes such as kindness, community and solidarity.

Mr B said: "At the moment we are open fully, and talking about processes in store to maintain people's safety and health. We are fortunate in one sense that we invested fairly in our website a few years ago. We do have a number of things on our website that we are now bringing to the fore." 

October Books, Southampton- The shop is closed for passing trade but are taking orders for books as well as organic food and cleaning products. They offer free delivery for innner Southampton. 

P&G Wells, Winchester- The shop is open and mainting normal operating hours for now. They are happy to post books country-wide. They can be contacted by email, phone or via their website.  

Red Lion Books, Colchester- The shop has closed to the public as of the 23rd March. As the shop is a small spce it was becoming "impossible" for customers to practice social distancing. The shop is still taking orders and delivering. If you have an order already you can contact the shop to arrange collection or delivery. 

Sarum College Bookshop, Salisbury- The bookshop is now closed to the public but is fulfilling orders behind closed doors and is offering free UK delivery. Follow their Twitter to keep up-to-date with the latest developments. 

Sevenoaks Bookshop, Kent- The bookshop remains open but they are offering free delivery in the Sevenoaks Town area or paid delivery by post. Currently, they are taking orders via email or phone but are hoping to get their website ordering service up and running soon. Update: The online shop is now live and all their stock is available to order! 

Wallingford Bookshop, Oxfordshire- The shop is continuing to trade and, like many others, they are also offering local deliveries for those who can't get out into town during this period. Details of how to order are on their Twitter

Wheeler's Bookshop, West Sussex- The bookshop is closed to the public for the next few weeks. The owner would like to "avoid the shop being party to any indirect spread of the virus". The shop is still trading behind closed doors and can be contacted by email any day of the week. 

The shop is offering new, old and long out-of-print books and has been posting worldwide for the last 20 years. Local customers are also welcome to drop a note through the door if they are not able to email.

North England

Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham- The bookshop remains open and offering delivery UK-wide, although they encourage people to support their local indies where they can. You can email them for information on ordering. 

Forum Books, Corbridge- The bookshop closed over the weekend but is still open for home delivery. Books can be ordered via email and they are also trying to stay active on social media

Grove Bookshop, Ilkley- The shop plans to stay open for as long as they can. They are sanitising regularly, advising contactless payments and encouraging social distancing. They are also offering free postage for all and hand delivering to those in walking distance. Follow their social media channels to stay connected if you are in self-isolation.

Plackitt & Booth, Lytham- The shop currently remains open but is offering a free delivery service to those who are self-isolating in the local area. You can call, email or message them on Twitter to order. If you order before 5pm they can offer next day delivery in the FY8 postcode.

Portal Bookshop, York- Portal Bookshop is a fairly new indie based in York, the shop specialises in LGBT+ and diverse sci-fi fantasy. The physical shop has been closed, but they are still taking orders online and via social media. 

The owner, Lali, has also been offering to send out a copy of The Trans Teen Survival Guide for free to "any trans or nonbinary young person (or their trusted friend, proxy, school, etc to preserve their anonymity) who is facing isolation with an unsupportive family." The shop has been inudated with requests and they are taking donations to help cover their costs. Details can be found on Twitter.  

Storytellers, St Annes on Sea- The shop remains open for now and they are also taking orders via phone, email, and social media. They are also offering free local delivery. 

The Book Case, West Yorkshire- The bookshop closed to the public on the weekend, but orders can still be placed online. If you have an order placed, please contact the shop to arrange your collection. 

The Midlands 

The Rabbit Hole, Brigg- The shop is closed to the public but offering free local delivery and posting books for orders further afeild. They can be contact by phone, email and social media. As ex-teachers, the owners are also offering to support schools in any way they can. They have resources and are using them to support teachers in these difficult times. They are delivering to the local area so the public do not have to go out unecessarily. 

Wonderland Books, Retford- Wonderland Bookshop is remaining open, but they are routinely wiping surfaces and keeping hand gel available for customer use. They are offering a free delivery service in Retford and mail order nationwide. Although they are primarily a children's shop, they are currently accepting a filling orders for adults. Their subscription services are runnning as normal. 

The shopkeepers are also offering to chat to those who are lonley in isolation, give recommendations by phone and deliver surprise book bundles according to people's tastes. 

Finally, the shop has been accepting donations as part of a Pay it Forward campaign, where they will be using the money to deliver a book to those in need. 


Sheelagh na Gig, Cloughjordan, County Tipperary- As the shop also stocks cleaning supplies and wholefoods they are remaining open. However, they are closed for public browsing. They are asking customers to phone orders ahead or arrive with a shopping list and then orders will be fulfilled and brought outside. They have also reduced trading hours, they are now open six days a week (closed Thursdays) between one and six. 

Gutter Bookshop- Both the Cow's Lane and Dalkey shops are closed. They are reviewing the situation daily, but expect the closure to last until at least the 31st March. Gutter's online shop will remain open and they will be fulfilling orders everyday. During the shutdown, the shop will implement a "click and collect" system which will allow customers to "collect parcels safely from either of [the] shops". They are also encouraging customers to support the business by buying a gift card for future use. 


Category Is Books, Glasow- The "fiercly independent queer bookshop" is closed until the 25th March. When they re-open they plan to focus on home deliveries. Customers are encouraged to order books and vouchers remotely. 

Edinburgh Bookshop, Edinburgh- The shop is closed but books can be ordered online and over the phone. They are also offering delivery in the local area with staff riding around on a borrowed bike with a basket at the front! The shop is also able to post orders further afield. 

Golden Hare Books, Edinburgh- The bookshop is closed until further notice. All author events are cancelled and customers are no longer able to collect orders from the shop, they are however offering to arrange delivery. 

Staff are working quickly to expand the online shop so that people are able to place orders but they also accept orders via email. They are offering free delivery to those with an EH postcode and a flat rate of £2.50 everywhere else in the UK. 

Mainstreet Books, Scottish Borders- The shop is now closed for at least two weeks. They have a new online shop which stocks some of their books, but the full range of titles is available if readers contact them by email. Books can be sent across the UK.

They also offering a book subscription service and encourage people to buy gift vouchers at this time. They ask those who are self-isolating to get in touch so they can try to make home delivery arrangments with you. 

The Portobello Bookshop, Edinburgh- Portobello owner Jack Clark told The Boookseller: "It's been extremelly tough deciding the right path, with so little guidance or clear narrative from the government." For now, Portobello is trying to hand deliver to customers locally and people can still order over the phone or online. On their website, it is clear that those who have orders can still go to the store to collect them and they will bring the books out to customers.

The Ullapool Bookshop, Ullapool- The bookshop is temporarily closed but the online shop is still open. 


Griffin Books, Penarth- Whilst the bookshop is currently open as usual, they are also offering orders over the phone and email. They are hand delivering in the local area or will post anywhere. 

Indie publishers selling direct to readers:

Graffeg Books- Graffeg Publishing, based in Cardiff Bay, is still working to supply readers via their online shop. Orders placed before 2pm will be sent the same day/

Imray- The staff are still working hard and sending out orders at this difficult time. They are working with a skeleton staff so delays are possible. 

Red Dog Press- The publisher is still selling direct from their website and are offering discounts.