The second Star Wars Reads Day, to be held on Saturday, October 5, will feature more than 2,000 events worldwide – up 67% from last year – including chain-wide participation from Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million in the United States. Participating publishers include Abrams, Chronicle, Dark Horse, Del Rey, DK, Quirk Books, Random House Audio, Scholastic, Titan Magazines, and Workman.
“Publishing has always been a huge anchor for the brand,” said Carol Roeder, director of publishing at Lucasfilm, which is spearheading the effort in partnership with Disney Publishing Worldwide.
Last year’s inaugural effort grew out of some in-store events DK had organized in conjunction with the release of its first Lego Star Wars title in 2009, which spurred several publishers to work together to emulate that success on a larger scale. “This idea originally came from a meeting of the minds of our publishers,” Roeder said, adding, “We always like to celebrate our fans, and to give back.”
Just as the original DK effort exceeded expectations with 70 stores participating, compared to the 10 or 15 expected, the first Star Wars Reads Day featured more than 1,200 events. “We thought if we had 100 to 200 stores and libraries, we’d be golden,” Roeder said. This year, the effort has expanded internationally, with events in Canada, Austria, Great Britain, Australia, Colombia, and especially Germany. In the U.S., not only has the number of participating stores grown, but the number of public and school libraries doing events increased threefold to 600.
Sixteen stores, including several Barnes & Noble locations as well as independents such as Joseph-Beth in Cincinnati, Tattered Cover in Denver, and Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach, Calif., will serve as premier event locations. They will feature appearances from more than 25 Star Wars authors, including John Jackson Miller, Matthew Reinhart, Tom Angleberger, and Jeffrey Brown, as well as a variety of in-store activities.
Other stores can download a 30-page activity kit that includes recipes, crafts, and games excerpted from participating publishers’ Star Wars titles. Many of the publishers also are providing swag – totaling 207,475 pieces – ranging from an origami pack from Workman to bookmarks, buttons, and posters from several others. Some stores will have visits from volunteer costumers from the 501st Legion, Rebel Legion, and R2 Builders Club. “The stores come up with very creative ways of celebrating,” Roeder says.
While Superstorm Sandy got in the way of tracking long-term sales of Star Wars books after last year’s Star Wars Reads Day, Roeder reported that “we saw a huge lift in sales, year-on-year, for that week.”
Since the first movie novelization in 1976, publishers have released more than 1,000 Star Wars titles in total, with 125 million-plus books currently in print. Recent releases include The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, tied to the 30th anniversary of that film, and the launch of Jeffrey Brown’s middle-grade series, Jedi Academy, from Scholastic.
The multi-publisher Star Wars Reads effort, which involves both children’s and adult houses, works, says Roeder, because there is not much overlap among the publishers’ Star Wars businesses: “They all have their own niche in the galaxy.”