More than 600 bookstores participated in Independent Bookstore Day 2020 this past Saturday, an event postponed from its original April 25 date because of the pandemic. This year, too, the emphasis was on virtual events that began with a range of children's, middle-grade and YA events, including drawing classes, author talks and genre discussions. The second half of the schedule focused on adult books and included a panel discussion about Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of Covid-19, the anthology edited by Jennifer Haupt and meant to benefit independent bookstores. The day's final official event was a talk featuring authors and past IBD ambassadors Tayari Jones, Lauren Groff and Emma Straub. (This year's IBD ambassador was Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle.) IBD also featured, as in previous years, exclusive bling and, in a change, IBD masks.
Despite the changed circumstances, readers were enthusiastic, visiting many stores as well as participating from afar.
Because of Independent Bookstore Day, Intermission Bookshop, Brownwood, Tex., opened to the public for the first time a few days earlier than planned, from 3-8 p.m., and festivities included a grand opening ribbon cutting. On Facebook the store wrote late Saturday, "You guys, we are BLOWN AWAY at the amount of people who came to support us today! Thank you so much Brownwood, we are excited to be a part of this amazing community!"
Intermission Bookshop is in the renovated Historic Queen Theater and is owned by Kim Bruton, who also owns the Runaway Train Café.
On Saturday, Swamp Fox Bookstore, which opened in mid-July in Marion, Iowa, handed out free books and collected more than $1,000 for the Marion Public Library Foundation, whose library building was declared a total loss after the August 10 derecho windstorm that tore across the Midwest.
|Old Town Books, Alexandria, Va., asked people to share their quarantine reading.
Terri LeBlanc, who owns Swamp Fox Bookstore with Amanda Zhorne and Ursla Lanphear, said, "We never imagined when we opened our store a month ago that we would be facing a natural disaster along with a pandemic. It was tough enough figuring out how to provide a safe browsing space in just 180 square feet of space, and then the derecho hit, damaging 90% of the properties in Marion." Wind speeds hit 140 miles per hour in some areas.
"Each day presents a new challenge to get books into the hands of readers," LeBlanc added. "But books are in the blood of all three of the us and we are proud of our community for their support, and we look forward to finding more ways to support our community as we move on beyond the storm."
Valley Bookseller, Stillwater, Minn., celebrated its 30th birthday on Saturday and held a contest asking customers to "tell us what you love about our store (or indie stores in general) and you'll be entered to win a $30 VB gift card."
Although Seattle Independent Bookstore Day cancelled its usual, highly popular passport challenge this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is offering a "2020 Stay at Home Edition" T-shirt, designed by Stephen Crowe of Third Place Books. The shirts can be ordered through September 6 and will be shipped starting September 15. Proceeds go to funding next year's Seattle Independent Bookstore Day and to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation.
Similarly, the Hudson Valley Book Trail, a grassroots effort to encourage community and collaboration among independent book shops in the Hudson River Valley of New York, is offering a "Hudson Valley Independent Bookstore Day" T-shirt, featuring a map of 26 independent bookstores along the Hudson River. The T-shirt is available for 17 more days and begins shipping on September 25.
The Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale, Ariz., supplemented IBD's virtual events and giveaways with two Saturday events. One featured Sophie Hannah and Alex Pavesi, and the other focused on longtime friends C.S. Harris, Anna Lee Huber, Susanna Kearsley and Christine Trent--joint authors of The Deadly Hours, whose pub date is tomorrow. Poisoned Pen's Barbara Peters wrote to customers, "I love the fact we're connecting you with British and Canadian authors, emphasizing the global nature of shopping at independent bookstores... and really, independent retailers of all sorts everywhere."
Libro.fm celebrated IBD in several ways. Throughout August, Libro.fm asked bookstore customers to share short videos explaining why their local bookstores and Libro.fm are important to them. When readers submitted their videos, they received one free audiobook credit, and on Saturday, Libro shared some of those videos on its blog and offered a "supercut." Creators who have their videos featured on the website got the choice of a $100 gift card to their local indie or a 12-month Libro.fm membership. The winners and their local bookstores were:
Amya Franklin, Square Books, Oxford, Miss.
Chris Trew, Garden District Book Shop, New Orleans, La.
Jarett Bonner, Tattered Cover, Denver, Colo.
Talia Basma, Kepler's, Menlo Park, Calif.
Valerie Wood-Lewis, Phoenix Books, Burlington, Vt.
Vanessa Aldaz, Cafe con Libros Press, Pomona, Calif.
Libro.fm also offered a pre-order promotion on Saturday: customers who pre-ordered print editions of any of six upcoming books receive for free either the audiobook version of three of the titles or another audiobook by the authors of the other three titles.
Support for Independent Bookstore Day came from people outside the book world. For example, Daniella Levine Cava, a Miami-Dade Commissioner who is running for mayor, tweeted: "Now more than ever, small businesses need our support, #IndieBookstores. On #IndependentBookstoreDay, show love for your favorite local bookstore & for the people who their hearts & souls into building a community of readers."