Booksellers Gear Up for Independent Bookstore Day Celebrations

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Hundreds of bookstores across the nation will participate in Independent Bookstore Day (IBD) on April 30 by hosting all-day celebrations featuring giveaways and prizes, book-themed activities and crafts, refreshments, and exclusive literary-themed merchandise.

M. Judson Booksellers & Storytellers in Greenville, South Carolina, is among seven bookstores offering customers a passport that can be stamped at each participating store; those who visit every store on the passport will earn themselves a 20 percent discount at each store for an entire year.

“You’d have to put in a lot of effort to get to all the stores, but I think it’s something that’s really worth it for book lovers,” said M. Judson author events coordinator Mary Miller. Other stores participating in the passport promotion are BookQuest, The Booksmith, Fiction Addiction, Hub City Bookshop, Joe’s Place, and Poor Richard’s Booksellers.

M. Judson will also host a Local Authors Market in the style of a farmers market, where self-published authors will be arranged at tables on the store’s patio to sell their books. At any time of year, self-published authors can pay to have their books displayed at M. Judson, “but I wanted them to have something special that’s just about them,” said Miller. Story time on Independent Bookstore Day will also feature a self-published author, as well as cookies and milk for the children.

This will be M. Judson’s first celebration of Independent Bookstore day, as the shop opened in July 2015. “We’re really excited about it,” said Miller. To get the word out about the festivities, staff shared details on all of store’s social media channels and website, and a local news spot featuring M. Judson and other bookstores nearby will be airing soon.

Customers visiting Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, Montana, on April 30 will be greeted with events at all times of the day. “Last year was a big event, but I thought I could up my game this year,” said Carson Evans, the store’s events coordinator.

The morning will kick off with an interactive puppet storytelling show, “Tricksy Wicksy: Tricksters in Folktale and Myth,” and will continue with events for children, including a teen writing workshop led by local authors Kent Davis and Janet Fox, who will also be among a dozen authors participating in a signing reception that afternoon.

Animal lovers will be able to meet — and adopt — cats visiting from the Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter. Younger animal lovers will also have a chance to read aloud to therapy dogs. In the spirit of Independent Bookstore Day, Country Bookshelf’s book club discussion will be on The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (Algonquin), the April 2014 Indie Next List Pick that celebrates indie bookstores. Throughout the day, the store will offer refreshments, and local poets will also be presenting poetry on demand.

Evans aimed to reach a wider audience this year by promoting IBD events through additional social media posts and advertisements placed to cover a greater stretch of the city. “Last year, people came out just because they knew that it was Independent Bookstore Day, so I tried to expand my marketing this year so more people would see that,” she said.

While April tends to be a quiet month at The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid, New York, owner Sarah Galvin is planning a day that will lure plenty of customers into the Main Street bookstore. To start, those who visit the store and buy an IBD tote bag or T-shirt prior to Independent Bookstore Day can earn a coupon for 20 percent off their entire purchase on April 30.

In addition to selling exclusive Independent Bookstore Day merchandise, The Bookstore Plus will offer hourly book giveaways from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on April 30, culminating in a grand prize giveaway of a $50 bookstore gift certificate. The day’s events will also include a coloring book release and signing with Nip Rogers, author of Color Me Placid: A Lake Placid Coloring Book.

At 2:00 p.m., staff will celebrate IBD by slicing and sharing a book-shaped cake. “We’re excited,” said Galvin. “We had a cake last year and it was a big hit.”

Customers are also invited to participate in an Independent Bookstore Day photography contest by snapping a photo at the store on April 30, sharing it on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, and using the hashtag #BookstoreDay and tagging The Bookstore Plus. Two winners will earn $25 store gift certificates.

The decked-out window of Fenton’s Open Book in Fenton, Michigan, makes it clear that the bookstore is hosting an all-day party on Independent Bookstore Day, said owner Karen Piacentini. “This is the first time we’re doing this, so we have a lot going on,” she said.

Fenton’s will be celebrating all things Curious George on Independent Bookstore Day: customers will be able to take selfies with Curious George to put in a Curious George picture frame, pick up the exclusive “Read with me” Curious George plush created for IBD, and stock up on Curious George books.

There will also be a book signing with local authors, an origami bookmark-making craft, a visit by Bubbles the Clown, specially made candies shaped like books, and prizes, giveaways, and coupons. A secret phrase shared on the bookstore’s Facebook page will earn customers additional prizes.

“We’re looking forward to this being a great time,” added Piacentini.

As booksellers finalize IBD programming and events, they are encouraged to share their plans on the Independent Bookstore Day spreadsheet. Booksellers can learn more about Independent Bookstore Day here and follow IBD on Facebook and Twitter.