For the past few years, a highlight of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Spring Gathering has been the appearance of a major author discussing upcoming work. But this weekend NCIBA used its annual gathering to promote and get booksellers hyped about the first California Bookstore Day, set for May 3.
Attending booksellers were delighted to have the chance to share their ideas for making California Bookstore Day a success in all 93 participating stores. The event's promo copy reads: "93 bookstores. 13 exclusive books & art pieces. 1 day only. Join the party."
"We looking at it as having 93 parties throughout the state, and--if we do it right--it's 93 cash mobs," said Hut Landon, NCIBA's executive director.
Christie Olson Day (Gallery Bookshop) and Ingrid Nystrom (Books Inc., Laurel Village) sport their California Bookstore Day t-shirts.
Christie Olson Day, owner of the Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino (whom Landon credited for coming up with the cash mob idea), explained that she looks at California Bookstore Day as a way for "book-loving friends to agree to shop in their stores on that day together." Her store has been working on creative and inexpensive event ideas to get people excited about the day and into the store.
Taking a cue from Samantha Schoech, the producer of California Bookstore Day hired by NCIBA, who suggested stores might want to start the day handing out mimosas to the first 20 customers, Gallery will have hourly giveaways that start with bagels in the morning and build to martinis. Participants are thinking about how to get customers to use stores for their own parties that day; Day suggested they might ask a book club to come in at cocktail hour.
Zach Ruskin, who works at Book Passage and also designed the California Bookstore Day website, walked attendees through the information on the site, which offers professionally written press releases, posters and bookmarks that are ready to print, and ideas for events with or without authors present.
In its Ferry Building location--which houses a farmer's market every Saturday--Book Passage is partnering with a local farmer to hand out carrots whenever someone mentions Do You Smell Carrots?, the limited-edition joke book made to sell that day featuring work by Lemony Snicket, Jon Scieszka, Katherine Applegate and others. In its Corte Madera store, Book Passage is lucky to have Dave Eggers (who has allowed Litographs to feature his bestselling memoir on a tote bag) scheduled for Bookstore Day, and Ruskin said they are also hosting "Soapbox Readings" throughout the day, where staff, authors and even customers will read passages from their favorite books.
|Some of the special items created for California Bookstore Day
S&S rep Cheri Hickman suggested booksellers who have "kookier" authors in their area might do kookier things. Daniel Handler having staring matches was one of her offbeat suggestions, an example of the kind of creative thinking and sharing-of-ideas spirit of the participating stores at the session. In the East Bay, Books Inc., Mrs. Dalloway's and Diesel are planning a competition to create the best cocktail for the day; another bookseller suggested they have a bartender from a top watering hole as judge.
Ann Seaton from Hicklebee's in San Jose described California Bookstore Day as "a great opportunity to celebrate and partner with our communities." Hicklebee's already had bestseller Megan McDonald (the Judy Moody books) scheduled for May 3, and the store will also host a launch party for Summoning the Phoenix: Prose and Poems About Chinese Musical Instruments by Emily Jiang and April Chu, who will play music. As Seaton said, California Bookstore Day is not just about celebrating the special items from big-name authors available on that one day--it's also about spotlighting the store as a discovery place.
Since NCIBA announced its plan for California Bookstore Day, it has gotten wide support--its Southern California counterpart, SCIBA, joined in, and financial assistance has come from James Patterson's indie bookstore grant and the American Booksellers Association, which is watching the inaugural California Bookstore Day with an eye to possibly taking it national.
The only requirements for participating bookstores are to promote the events actively and to report their sales (in percentage, if not dollars), comparing May 3 to the Saturday from the year before (May 2, 2013) and sales the weekends before and after California Bookstore Day. "We need to see if this drives sales," said Landon.
A complete list of California Bookstore Day limited-edition items is at cabookstoreday.com, where there are also tips for creating great events and spreading the word--including a social media to-do list (@bookstoreday). --Bridget Kinsella