Independent Bookstore Day: A Very Happy Fifth
On Saturday, 577 indie stores around the country--more than ever before--celebrated the fifth annual Independent Bookstore Day, featuring a range of exclusive merchandise, author events, contests, passport programs, special displays, organized tours, scavenger hunts and all kinds of appropriately independent ways of marking the occasion. Stores reported sizable crowds, drawn by the events and, as some said, just to show their support for their favorite indies bookstores.
|Showing off the merchandise at Square Books, Oxford, Miss.|
Media coverage was positive, with lots of stories in local press. IBD even showed up on the radar of some presidential candidates. Pete Buttigeieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., tweeted: "This #bookstoreday I am thankful for the independent bookstores of America, from the places where I would discover new worlds as a child to South Bend's newest arrival, @brainlairbooks. Each is a treasure." (Brain Lair Bookstore, the children's shop run by Kathy Burnette, opened last summer.)
And former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper tweeted: "Local bookstores like @TatteredCover are a place of discovery and comfort, an escape and an essential part of so many communities. Support them, not just on #IndependentBookstoreDay, but whenever you can--so our kids can know that same joy of discovery. #BookstoreDay #IBD2019."
|At Bookstore Plus, Lake Placid, N.Y.|
On Saturday, Libro.fm helped celebrate IBD by offering a selection of free downloadable audio titles. Stephanie Ballien, director of marketing, commented: "Independent Bookstore Day is a moment to remind people on the importance of local bookstores and many ways to support these community businesses. This Independent Bookstore Day we were able to reach millions of people through the offer of free audiobooks thanks our bookstore partners, authors, and network of influencers. These people now realize their ability to support local bookstores through audiobook purchases which is powerful education."
Stephen Blake Mettee, president and chief visionary officer of Hummingbird Digital Media, which partnered with HarperCollins and Hachette Book Group to offer eight bestselling e-books for $2.99 or less on IBD, commented: "In past years, I've enjoyed watching the degree of energy and enthusiasm booksellers invested in IBD, but this year the excitement was really over the top. I'm eager to see what happens next year."
|The Boston Bookstore Trolley arriving at Newtonville Books.|
For the first time, Boston-area bookstores staged two trolley tours on IBD. Organized by Metro Boston Bookstore Day, both tours were sold out, with 35 riders each, and made 20-minute stops at every store. One trolley went to Porter Square Books, Book Ends Winchester, Belmont Books, Harvard Book Store, Trident Booksellers & Cafe, I Am Books and MIT University Press Bookstore. The other trolley went to Brookline Booksmith, Children's Book Shop, Newtonville Books, New England Mobile Book Fair, Wellesley Books, Blue Bunny Books & Toys and Papercuts J.P.
"Shepherding a trolley full of readers to seven Boston-area bookstores was a delight," said Metro Boston Bookstore Day co-director Katie Eelman. "Many riders made a purchase at each shop they visited, and every rider visited a store they'd never been to before. The energy was vibrant, and the enthusiasm was contagious."
Co-director Clarissa Murphy added: "Riders really felt and saw the individuality of each store they visited as they were welcomed with open arms, goodie bags, VIP back room access, coffee and cookies. Our stores were showing off their best for IBD and our riders were showing off their book love in response. It was the most energetic and magical day a indie bookseller could have, and the trolley was full of laughter and book recommendations."
|Calvin Crosby at Book Passage.|
In one of the more unusual IBD celebrations, Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif., hosted a reception for a display of paintings in its gallery by none other than Calvin Crosby, executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association and a former Book Passage employee. As the store put it, Crosby's "nostalgia of his summers growing up on the road of the western states, his passion for animal well-being, and sense of humor manifest in his paintings." As if he isn't busy enough, he's also co-owner of Blade and Brush, an artists cooperative in Sonoma.
|The Field Guide to Independent Bookstores at WORD.|
At WORD bookstores in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jersey City, N.J., customers who bought a book received a free "blind book," a wrapped title identified only by subject. The stores also held a "Guess That Ending" game--customers were provided the last paragraph of some classic novels, and if they could name the right title, they won a 10%-off coupon for anything in the store. The Brooklyn store participated in the Field Guide to Bookstores of Brooklyn, featuring images of 17 Brooklyn stores with contact information. On Saturday, customers who went to at least five of the stores received a 25%-off coupon on any single purchase at a participating store. Those who visited all 17 stores were entered in a grand prize drawing with an array of gifts.
|Fact & Fiction manager Mara Panich-Crouch and a new friend.|
On Saturday, Fact & Fiction, Missoula, Mont., featured IBD displays--and guest visits from several goats who cuddled with customers and staff.
Arundel Books, Seattle, Wash., participating in the Seattle IBD challenge for the first time, and the day wound up being "a huge day for us," owner Phil Bevis said. "It won't be our last." On Saturday, the store set an all-time record for foot traffic--some 2,000 visitors--a mix of people attracted by IBD as well as those "attracted by the excitement." Sales were also up: "We simply destroyed our prior store record for number of transactions," Bevis continued. "Almost two-thirds of titles sold were new books (vs. used and rare), which is higher than our usual ratio of just over 50%." Bevis added: "Most important was the visceral sense of fun and excitement among participants." Nine guest author-booksellers included Charles Johnson, author of Middle Passage (Scribner). Arundel Books' IBD bestseller was We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Anchor Books).
At Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif., IBD festivities included Antoinette Portis reading at story time from her new children's book about water conservation, Hey Water! (Neal Porter Books); cooking experts Marge Perry and David Bonom presenting and signing their cookbook, Hero Dinners: Complete One-Pan Meals That Save the Day (Morrow Cookbooks), an appearance that included some samples; as well as Veera Hiranandani, who presented and signed her new book, The Night Diary (Puffin Books), at Vroman's Hastings Ranch.