The 19 best books Fast Company staffers read during quarantine—and the best indie bookstores to buy them from

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Independent bookstores are hurting as shoppers stay online. Pick up one of our staff picks to support bookstores throughout the U.S. Whether you’re diving into an engrossing period drama, reading up on the history of protests or pandemics, or escaping into a fantastical world, chances are you’ve indulged in some reading during the pandemic. Market researcher Rakuten estimates that between March and April of this year, book sales rocketed 777%. That’s great news for authors and publishers, but not so much for book stores; most consumers are still buying their books from big online retailers like Amazon. In fact, according to the American Booksellers Association, at least one independent bookstore has closed each week since the pandemic began. Read Full Story

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This Stripe-backed startup wants to bring one-click checkout to the rest of the web

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Fast is partnering with vendors to let you skip filling out your credit card information each time you want to buy something online. Like many people during the pandemic, I have been trying to order less from Amazon, instead getting my books from independent bookstores and ordering supplies from smaller sites. The main downside? Filling out my address, phone number, and credit card details every time I buy from a new site. Read Full Story

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6 must-read books for startup leaders navigating the pandemic

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From shoring up your company’s work-from-home culture to learning how to pitch and hire remotely, these books are essentials, writes an entrepreneur turned venture capitalist. One of the best things that leaders of a young company can do, with the pandemic and shutdowns continuing to disrupt everything, is . . . read books. Why? Because when crucial interactions are distorted by being forced online, you need more than tips for looking good in a videoconference . When uncertain times threaten a firm’s survival, you need more than emergency moves . It’s time to focus on fundamentals. Read Full Story

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Supporting Small Business Saturday with 2020-Conscious Marketing

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Posted by MiriamEllis Image credit: Elvert Barnes “Conscious spending with the community can contribute to neighborhood sustainability.” — Christine Araquel, The Park’s Finest I encountered this quote from a restauranteur on the American Express Small Business Saturday website , and just these few words called a vivid image to my mind: local business owners and customers gazing together toward the horizon, hoping to pierce the clouds of COVID-19 and see them clearing away, revealing communities that are still standing, and still capable of sustaining our hometowns, our cities, and our dreams. 72% of consumers believe they will frequent neighboring businesses more after the crisis is over, but that will take all of us doing our part now to ensure as many SMBs are still there to greet us when better days return. In Q4 of 2019, I used my column to encourage local business owners to start having meaningful conversations …

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‘We’re just doing our best to adapt’: Emma Straub on running an indie bookstore amid coronavirus

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The best-selling author and co-owner of Books Are Magic discusses how her store is weathering the crisis while supporting writers, staff, and other bookstores. For years, independent bookstores fought to stay in business in the face of big box stores and Amazon’s unstoppable growth. Now, they find themselves up against the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced bookstores across the country to close their doors and take their business online. Read Full Story

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Why this author is taking a stand against Amazon’s audiobook monopoly

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Famed writer and activist Cory Doctorow is selling the audio version of his upcoming book via Kickstarter to sidestep the walled garden of Amazon-owned audiobook platform Audible. When science fiction writer and activist Cory Doctorow releases his new novel, Attack Surface , next month, you’ll be able to pick up a physical copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local independent bookstore. If you’d prefer an e-book, you’ll be able to download it on Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and other mainstream digital book platforms. Read Full Story

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How Your Local Business Can Be a Helper

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Posted by MiriamEllis “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.” — Fred Rogers This quote is one I find myself turning to frequently these days as a local SEO. It calls to mind my irreplaceable neighborhood grocer. On my last essential run to their store, they not only shared a stashed 4-pack of bath tissue with me, but also stocked their market with local distillery-produced hand sanitizer which I was warned will reek of bourbon, but will get the job done. When times are hard, finding helpers comes as such …

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This custom furniture is 3D-printed to fit the exact space it’s supposed to go

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And it’s made from recycled agricultural waste. Just like fast fashion, there’s fast furniture : the cheap furnishings you buy from big box stores and online outlets, made from materials that aren’t the best for the environment or that long-lasting. These coffee tables and nightstands are pre-made—you pick a box off a shelf, or have one delivered to you from a warehouse—meaning you have to find a design that fits the space you need to fill. And when you need something new, you’re likely to just toss that table in the trash, adding to the some 9 million tons of furniture that ends up in landfills every year. Read Full Story

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My 8 Best Local SEO Tips for the 2020 Holidays

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Posted by MiriamEllis   Image credit: DoSchu “No place like home for the holidays.” This will be the refrain for the majority of your customers as we reach 2020’s peak shopping season. I can’t think of another year in which it’s been more important for local businesses to plan and implement a seasonal marketing strategy extra early, to connect up with customers who will be traveling less and seeking ways to celebrate at home. Recently, it’s become trendy in multiple countries to try to capture the old Danish spirit of hygge , which the OED defines as: A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being. While this sometimes-elusive state of being isn’t something you can buy direct from a store, and while some shoppers are still unfamiliar with hygge by name, many will be trying to create it at home this year. …

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