IBD 2018: Festive, Fun--and Big Sales Gains

At Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The fourth Independent Bookstore Day was more engaging and celebrated by more people than ever, according to reports from booksellers and participants. As our own editor emerita Marilyn Dahl, who visited 19 Seattle-area stores on Saturday, wrote, "It was really so much fun! It will be interesting to see how many more people were involved than last year. Tons, it seemed like. We are fortunate up here to have so many stores and booksellers who think of themselves as a team; competitors, yes, but in it together."

Like her, many other book lovers enjoyed the passport programs that booksellers put together in Seattle, San Diego, Chicago, Minneapolis, Boston and elsewhere. People who completed the bookstore tours proudly posted pictures with their completed passports--most of which were good for discounts on purchases during the coming year. This, too, made for a friendly competition.

Crowd at Bookbar, Denver, Colo.

Many stores said that Saturday's IBD was the busiest, with the most sales ever. For example, yesterday BookBar, Denver, Colo., tweeted to customers, "Thank you! Because of you, we had our best sales day so far of 2018 yesterday for Independent Bookstore Day. Thank you for sharing in the fun, value, and fierce passion of indie bookstores."

Bookends & Beginnings, Evanston, Ill., had the best IBD ever, too, owner Nina Barrett reported yesterday. "We're still feeling the glow." She noted that IBD and the store have grown up together: the store was in its first year of business when the first Independent Bookstore Day was held. That first IBD "traffic was underwhelming," she continued, "but I can't say whether that was because hardly anyone had heard of IBD or hardly anyone had found us in our alley--yet. The second year I wasn't sure it would even be worthwhile to try it again, but I signed up anyway out of loyalty to the Cause, and it was better. And then last year, our third year, was definitely robust. But this year sales were another 49% above last year--on par with our sales in the last few days before Christmas!"

Sidewalk chalk art contest at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, N.C.

Barrett attributed the gains in part to the store's own growth; to IBD "gaining a LOT of traction nationally--and I think underlying that is that people are increasingly getting the shop-small, shop-local message"; and what she called "the solidarity of the ChIBA [Chicagoland Independent Booksetore Alliance] stores in marketing 'indie bookstore tourism' as a cool thing to do in the Chicago area." She noted that when the store opened Saturday, there were people waiting outside to get an early start on the ChIBA bookstore crawl.

Joelle Herr, owner of Her Bookshop, Nashville, Tenn., said, "It was our biggest sales day yet, surpassing even our two Small Business Saturdays (since our opening in 2016). We were blown away by the turnout. It was lovely seeing so many of our loyal customers and meeting folks who ventured in for the first time. Our hearts are feeling very full, and we're so grateful for the support of our community."

Maryelizabeth Yturralde, co-owner of Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego, Calif., reported that IBD was a "resounding success and great fun," with the store's booksellers spending the day talking to readers, selling books and stamping passports of those participating in the second annual San Diego Bookstore Crawl. Yturralde added that four independent authors stopped by Mysterious Galaxy to help with the day's festivities.

NCIBA executive director Calvin Crosby at Vroman's.

At Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, Calif., the festivities began at 11 a.m. with a meet-and-greet with children's illustrator Chris Robertson (Giraffes Ruin Everything and If I Didn't Have You) and continued into the afternoon with literary trivia and a celebration of author Octavia Butler. Throughout the day, Vroman's customers could take pictures in an IBD-themed photo booth, complete with bookish props, and write why they love the store on an IBD poster. Responses praised Vroman's wide selection of books, bike parking, and the "awesome community of people who work and hang" there.

Vroman's sister store, Book Soup, in West Hollywood, held a Drag Queen Story Hour featuring Pickle, who read a selection of picture books about raccoons, pizza and more. In addition to exclusive IBD items being on sale, there were freebies and giveaways, and Book Soup's sidewalk chalkboard poll asked customers how they felt about "bathtubs that look like they have feet."

At Books Kinokuniya in Carrollton, Tex., IBD events featured readings by local writers, including David Eric Tomlinson, author of The Midnight Man, and Jeanne Skartsiaris, author of Dance Like You Mean It. Kinokuniya's Shigekazu Watanabe reported that the store was "packed with customers. It's a great opportunity to have the local authors connect to local people who love books."

In Montrose, Calif., Once Upon A Time Bookstore hosted a special IBD story time session in the morning and ran a variety of all-day activities and sales. Customers who brought in either IBD or Once Upon A Time tote bags received $5 of a purchase of $15 or more, and all books about books and bookstore were 10% off. There were treats and goodies available for customers, including See's Candies, and Once Upon A Time's "bookstore kitty" Pippi was on hand to greet shoppers.

Blue Willow's winner.

In one of the more heartwarming stories on Independent Bookstore Day, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex., tweeted that the winner of its book basket giveaway was a reader who had lost all of her books in Hurricane Harvey last year. We second the store's comment: "We can't think of a more deserving recipient."

In Rockland, Maine, hello hello books skipped "the awkward public photo booth" by "offering something that matches our bookish temperaments. Introducing our newest invention, the #introvertphotobooth! Volunteers of all skill levels will be here doing quick pencil portraits of anyone who wants one--you can choose to sit with your eyes closed, or have the sketcher close their eyes, or you both can close your eyes... whatever makes your inner introvert happy. The sketchers will take a photo of their creation--which we might feature on Instagram!--but then it's yours to keep."

Independent Bookstore Day program director Samantha Schoech makes a new friend at Bookshop West Portal.

One of the more unusual events on a day that featured a range of cool, imaginative events took place at Bookshop West Portal, San Francisco, Calif. For much of the day, the store had three llamas in its courtyard to celebrate Llama Llama Loves to Read by the late Anna Dewdney and to raise funds for Heifer International, which aims to end hunger by partnering with small-scale farmers and donating livestock and resources. Apparently participants had "a llama fun"--the llamas were a big draw to younger indie bookstore lovers.

Literary trivia with Sara Benincasa at Skylight Books.

In Los Feliz in Los Angeles, Skylight Books welcomed shoppers with donuts, mimosas and other free treats, and in the afternoon hosted its first ever literary trivia contest. Teams vied for the first place prize of a $25 Skylight gift card, and some questions included: "to which author is Moby-Dick dedicated?"; "what book had the alternate title of The Fireman?"; and "which author included a Powerpoint chapter in her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel?" Free drinks were available to participants and Skylight accepted donations for the L.A. nonprofit Women's Center for Creative Work. And in the evening, the store celebrated the launch of third issue of the Exposition Review, entitled "Orbit."

Trident Booksellers ready to help. (photo: Boston Book Blog)

The Boston Book Blog noted that Trident Booksellers & Café, Boston, Mass., which is temporarily closed because of severe water damage after a fire at the end of February, nonetheless was "representing hard" on Independent Bookstore Day. Outside the store, a "bookseller is in" stand featured "a blind date with a book."

Libro.fm joined with indies to celebrate IBD, offering six free audiobooks and two samplers for download through its bookstore partners. Many indies featured libro.fm in announcements and posts about IBD. Libro.fm also collected author quotations in support of indie bookstores, which included praise from Celeste Ng (official spokesperson this year), Emma Straub (also a bookstore owner), Neil Gaiman, Junot Díaz, Dan Pink and many more.

Libro.fm CEO Mark Pearson said that the celebration of Independent Bookstore Day "also happened online where stores and booksellers shared the audiobook offer with the hashtag #BookstoreDay. Customers of independent bookstores are the best, and the free audiobook offer was our way to thank them for their support--and introduce them to audiobooks."

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