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Like so many other small businesses, independent bookstores have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, news of the struggling economy has been so nonstop these past few months that it’s easy to forget that there are real people behind the headlines. We recently came across a short film that highlighted exactly that. Watch the story of Erik, a bookseller yearning to connect during the height of the pandemic below. (And then read on for three easy ways you can show some love to your local bookstores right now.)

“At the beginning of the pandemic, I felt like my city was falling apart,” says director Naz Riahi. “News from Manhattan was that it was a zombie town. And that scared me and made me incredibly sad. But my friend Erik DuRon, who owns Left Bank Books, kept going in once or twice a week to ship books and he’d tell me about the experience of being on the train, of walking the empty streets. Once things had settled a tiny bit and it felt like we could make a film responsibly, I knew I had to capture what was happening.”

And while Sincerely, Erik is completely scripted, fact and fiction blend in this affecting short. “Erik is acting,” says Riahi. “But he is a real bookstore owner, he does own Left Bank Books and he did once post a drunken dance to Instagram, which inspired that scene in the film.” He also does write thank you notes for every book purchased, although they are not the letters portrayed in the film.

Strand book store
Strand Bookstore/Facebook

It's hard not to watch the film and wonder what you can do to help Erik and other bookstore owners like him throughout NYC. Well, we've got you—here are some ways to do just that.

1. Buy Books (In-Store or Online)

The best way to show your bookstore some love? Buy their goods. Now that New York City is in Phase Four of reopening, many independent bookstores are allowing customers back through their doors (with social distancing measures in place, of course). But if you’re not comfortable going into stores just yet, check out your shop’s website and order online for curbside pickup or delivery. IndieBound and Bookshop are two more great resources for ordering books online from independent sellers. And remember—this also applies to books that aren’t out yet. Think of it this way: You would’ve bought the upcoming Elena Ferrante anyway, so why not buy it now when booksellers may be in need of the extra money?

2. Buy Gift Cards

Another easy way to show your support is to buy a gift card or two. It’s sort of a win-win—your bestie will be thrilled at your thoughtful gesture and you can put some money in the pockets of indie booksellers, fast. (Note: It’s totally cool to buy yourself a gift card, by the way.)

3. Donate to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to assisting booksellers impacted by hardships such as natural disasters, health problems and the current pandemic. If you’re financially able, give a one-time gift, or set up a recurring donation to back booksellers around the country.

RELATED: It’s Never Been More Important to Support Independent Bookstores. Here’s How

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