A Bibliophile’s Guide to the Internet

April 27, 2020 | By Margo Hammond. . .

Stay Safe Read a Book: Alsace Walentine, co-owner of Tombolo Books, models the the T-shirt designed by screen printer Mike Toth of Alleyway Screen Print

Order a book.

Buy a T-shirt designed by a local artist that says Stay Safe, Read a Book.

Expand your Kindle library.

Enjoy a documentary about booksellers.

Catch up on the latest book news.

Start to write your own book.

Read a book review.

Meet an author.

Join a book club.

     . . . all online within the safety of your living room.

. . …

Order Books Delivered to Your Door

Tombolo Books

Funny Reads, LGBTQ+ books, Staff Favorites, Florida Books Signed by the Author, Children’s Picture Books and Middle Grade Reads. You can find all of these on the website of this local indie bookstore.

Located in St. Petersburg’s Grand Central District, the store is closed but the website is open. Tombolo offers no-touch delivery in downtown St. Petersburg or you can have the books shipped directly to your home.

The bookstore also offers two unique ways to support independent bookstores during this quarantine.

  • Order a large print book for local seniors as part of the bookstore’s drive to send easier-to-read titles to nursing homes in St. Petersburg. Just type DONATE in the comments line of your order.
  • Buy a T-shirt that says Stay Safe, Read a Book, designed and printed by local screen printer Mike Toth at Alleyway Screen Print. Half the proceeds of your purchase will be donated toward a relief fund for independent booksellers as part of the #saveindiebookstores campaign. Independent Bookstore Day this year was postponed until April 29.

. . .

Book + Bottle

After months of building something beautiful, we finally opened our doors only to shut them again a few days later to protect our beloved community from the spread of an invisible threat,” writes Terra Dunham, founder of the newest indie bookstore in St. Petersburg.

Although physically shut, the store is still active — St. Pete customers can order books and wine that will be delivered to your doorstep, usually within 24 hours (be prepared to show an ID, if you order wine). Or you can have books (but, alas, not yet wine) shipped anywhere for a flat shipping fee of $5 (free for orders over $50). 

Extra bonus for book lovers — if you choose local writing coach Roy Peter Clark’s Murder Your Darlings,10 percent of the purchase price will go to Mirror Lake Library.

While you’re at the store’s website, check out the videos for children — Dunham reading One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller by Kate Read and actress Becca McCoy reading Sloths Don’t Run by St. Pete author Tori McGee (the video includes a handwashing song, Becca’s dad Joseph McCoy singing Sloths Don’t Run and a lesson on how to draw a turtle).

. . .

Electronic Downloads

Pinellas County Public Library

Physical libraries are closed, but library card holders still can download ebooks and other digital materials.

I recently downloaded Frankenstein to my Kindle to read before watching two theatrical adaptations of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s novel offered by the National Theatre of London: April 30-May 7 with Benedict Cumberbatch as the creature and Jonny Lee Miller as Victor Frankenstein and and May 1-8 when the two British actors reverse those roles. The library download and the plays are free.

. . .

Project Gutenberg

Offering over 60,000 free ebooks, this library has been compiled by thousands of volunteers who have digitalized older literary works whose U.S. copyright has expired (although there are a few published after 1924 as well).

It includes free epub and Kindle ebooks you can download or read online.

You can search for authors or titles, and browse the project’s Bookshelves by genre, age group and topic.. . .


Called the “Groupon of e-books” by The Guardian, BookBub is an online daily newsletter that offers e-books for as little as… free (although most range between 99 cents and $2.99).

The newsletter is free to customers while authors and publishers pay a fee to be on the site. Yes, a lot of self-publishers try to get on the site, but recently traditional publishers have come on board and the organizers who curate the site claim to reject more than 80 percent of the requests to post.

Recent offerings included Kristin Hannah’s Between Sisters, published by Ballantine in 2003, available for download for $2.99 and Geraldine Brooks’ 2008 New York Times bestseller People of the Book, offered for $1.99.

. . .

Early Bird Books

Like BookBub, daily online book deals are delivered to your email, but this time they come with expiration dates to encourage you to act fast.

Recent flash sales — Gloria Steinhem’s Doing Sixty and Seventy and David Halberstam’s The Powers That Be, both offered for $1.99. The former originally was published in 2006 as a 72-page book by Elders Academy Press; the latter, at 784 pages, was originally published in 1979 by Knopf.

. . .

“The Booksellers,” D.W. Young’s documentary on New York’s rare book business, now streaming for $9.99 on the Tampa Theatre website.

Watch a Movie About Booksellers

The Booksellers at Tampa Theatre

For $9.99 — buy the virtual ticket at the Tampa Theatre website — you can watch director D.W. Young’s new documentary, a behind-the-scenes look at New York’s rare book world and its quirky denizens, narrated by Parker Posey, on your desktop, tablet, smartphone, Chromecast or AirPlay. Half the proceeds go to Tampa Theatre.

. . .

Write Your Own Book

“Have a drink. Write a story. Have another drink. Write a better story”: the next First Draft Social, a virtual workshop offered by Miami Book Fair Online, will be held May 13 at 6:30 pm

Miami Book Fair Online

The Miami Book Fair, a mainstay for Florida book lovers every fall, has been cancelled, but the fair must go on — online, that is.

“Physically distant, but socially engaged,” reads its website which offers author readings, conversations (author Julia Alvarez and Miami bookstore owner Mitchell Kaplan, for example) and workshops.

As part of the Big Read program, the fair is offering First Draft Socials live-streamed via Crowdcast. The next one is on May 13 at 6:30 p.m. featuring freelance writer, editor and teacher Nicholas Garnett providing the prompts: “Have a drink. Write a story. Have another drink. Write a better story.”

. . .

Read About Books

Literary Hub

Launched in 2015, this site publishes personal and critical essays, interviews and book excerpts from over 100 independent presses, large publishers, bookstores, nonprofits and literary magazines all interested in literary fiction and nonfiction.

The site also features a website devoted to crime, mystery and thriller books called CrimeReads (its latest offering: “Crime Novels in the Time of Plague”) and a Lit Hub Daily fix.

Last year the site launched LitHub Radio (bookish podcasts) and this year, in response to the coronavirus shutdowns, it is offering the Virtual Book Channel (see below).

. . .


This nonprofit site publishes essays, criticism and literary news with an emphasis on work by new voices and social justice issues. Also offered are two weekly literary magazines — Recommended Reading, which publishes short story and novel excerpts, and The Commuter, which offers flash fiction, poetry and graphic narratives. It’s all free.

. . .

Shelf Awareness for Readers

This free newsletter, appearing Tuesdays and Fridays (sign up for free to receive it in your email), sends you a list of the 25 best books of the week chosen by booksellers, librarians and other industry experts, as well as news about books and authors.

You can also get SelfAwarenessPro, a second newsletter aimed at the book trade which keeps you up to date about the business of selling books.

. . .

Brain Pickings

A blog about books by Maria Popova. “I am a reader and writer, and I write about what I read here on Brain Pickings — my one-woman labor of love exploring what it means to live a decent, substantive, rewarding life,” writes Popova who for 13 years has maintained her blog ad-free through donations by grateful readers.

Popova takes a deep dive into the world’s big ideas — life, death and the meaning of both, for starters — constantly reminding us why we love to read. Most of the material she sources is sitting on the shelves of your local library — now in quarantine, but, hopefully, also in digital form somewhere.

. . .

Meet an Author

Virtual Book Channel

Created by Literary Hub, VBC live-streams and then archives book events it finds across cyberspace (the Miami Book Fair interview of Julia Alvarez, noted above, for example) as well as offering its own original material.

. . .

Center for Fiction

Based in Brooklyn, this not-for-profit is offering online author interviews for little or no cost.

On May 5 at 7:30 p.m., you can join a free Zoom session with author Michael Rips discussing his book about New York’s Chelsea district, The Golden Flea, with actor Ethan Hawke.

. . .

Join a Virtual Book Club

Book Club at Studio@620: The club will meet via Zoom on May 6 at 6:30 to discuss “Three Women by Lisa Taddeo.

Book Club at The Studio@620

Hosted by Keep St. Pete Lit, the club is now meeting virtually.

Next up via Zoom on May 6 at 6:30 p.m — a discussion of Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. Donations accepted.

. . .

The James Museum From Home

The museum on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg is shuttered and its book club meetings cancelled — but on its website, book club moderator Helen Huntley has posted a book discussion guide to Half Broke by Ginger Gaffney, a book about the transformative power of working with horses.

. . 

Quarantine Book Club

For $5 (or use code: ALLAREWELCOME for a free ticket if you need to), you can quiz an author about his or her book.

On April 30 from 8-9 p.m., Melody Moezzi, an activist and attorney will talk about her memoir The Rumi Prescription: How an Ancient Mystic Poet Changed My Manic Modern Life. My question for Moezzi: Will this coronavirus quarantine be more or less effective than Rumi in changing our manic modern lives?

. . .


Launched in March by LBGTQ+ historian Eric Cervini on his Instagram page, the Quarantini Club began by reading James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room.

The May selection is On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Vietnamese-American poet Ocean Vuong.

Cervini’s own book, The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual Vs. The United States of America, the history of the fight for gay rights before Stonewall, is due out this summer. Quarantini rhymes with martini. Works for me.

. . .

Do you have any favorite sites for book lovers?
Please send them to me at creativelatebloomers@gmail.com.


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