If there were any doubts that the inaugural California Bookstore Day would succeed, they were dissolved by noon on Saturday, May 3 by the loud and clear praise from participating indies that echoed from San Diego to Fort Bragg and all points in between.
Every bookstore that checked in with Hut Landon, executive director of NCIBA and Andrea Vuleta, executive director of SCIBA, the day after the event reported that sales were up on CBD by anywhere from 20% (Vroman’s) to 275% (Green Apple Books). “It went incredibly well,” Vuleta said, “and some of the limited edition items created just for CBD sold out completely.” Neil Gaiman’s bound short story "The Sleeper and the Spindle," was by far the most collectible item, even showing up for sale on eBay within hours of being purchased; it sold out quickly in most stores.
Skylight Books manager Steve Salardino was happily shocked to find a line of 25 people waiting to get in when the store opened Saturday morning. “It was a fantastic day,” he said, “and the event really brought people into Skylight. We were up by about 90%, and at least 20% of the customers were new to us.” To add to the flavor of the day, Skylight invited people from LA Zine Fest/Razorcake to staff an "Ask a Zinester" table, and representatives from the Women's Center for Creative Work were also on hand selling special products from small presses.
A literary scavenger hunt, created for CBD by Diesel Books in Brentwood, went on all day and was particularly popular with children. Customers had to find books with something specific in the title, be it an animal, city, food item, or number. “It was great to see kids and adults alike searching through books for the answers,” said Diesel event coordinator Cheryl Ryan. “The first hour was just buzzing here, with a lot of people waiting outside the door in line before we opened. One lady came all the way from Santa Barbara just to support our store, and sales were definitely up.”
Vroman’s produced a short theater piece that many customers watched in the afternoon, and Colleen Bates of Prospect Park Books devised and moderated a well-attended literary trivia game. Brian Selznick showed up unannounced at Warwick’s in La Jolla and signed his limited edition item - an original lithograph from his book Hugo – as well as all of his books in the store. And at Once Upon a Time, owner Maureen Palacios reported a sales increase of 100%. “It was a fantastic day,” she said. “We did especially well with Do You Smell Carrots? A Joke Book for Kids and we had an open mic where kids could tell jokes, but they spoke into a carrot instead of a microphone.” Once Upon a Time also had new customers come from far away. “We saw lots of brand new faces.”
Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Books, who came up with the idea for CBD in 2013 and saw it through to fruition with the help of Landon, Vuleta, and his wife Samantha Schoech, who produced the event, was buoyant the next day. “I knew it would be a success, because it was all I thought about for a year,” he said. “It worked. And less than 20% of the sales came from the limited edition items, which means our customers really came to support us as an indie and just spent a lot of money on our usual inventory.”
A survey will be sent out by Landon to all the participating CBD stores this week; the responses will help fine-tune and guide next year’s event. “The creativity shown by the stores was fabulous. This was a success really because of all the bookstore support, and the time and money they put into it. The special items certainly were the hook to talk up the event,” he said, “but it wasn’t just about the items. The goal was to get people into the stores, and that worked. I don’t care what they bought or why they came, the success we demonstrated speaks for itself.”