Aside from simply celebrating small bookstores, one objective of the forthcoming Independent Bookstore Day, on May 2, is to bury a long-running narrative that the indies are dying. It's a narrative that Hut Landon, executive director of the North California Independent Booksellers Association, said "is fiction."
Samantha Schoech, program director of the event, said the goal is to change the perceptions of these retailers and do away with "the tired narrative of bookstores hanging on by a thread." Pointing out that, in the last few years, more bookstores have opened, than closed, Schoech said that after "a huge die-off beginning in the ‘90s...many stores have figured out how to not only survive, but to thrive."
This year's national event is an outgrowth of last year’s successful California Bookstore Day, which featured participation from 93 stores in the state. Independent Bookstore Day has 350 stores participating.
Once the event morphed into a national one, Schoech said the aim was to get as many bookstores as possible to participate, to advertise the event, and to get exclusive items from publishing partners. Schoech said she’s incredibly happy that publishers “have come through for us in huge ways." She noted that Penguin Random House became the event's first publisher sponsor with a $15,000 grant, and got Chris Ware to create an original print for Independent Bookstore Day. "All our publishing partners have been really amazing. We’ve gotten Grade A stuff across the board.”
While Schoech's group has been overseeing national publicity for the event, she noted that bookstore is responsible for promoting their events locally. "Like everything,” said Schoech, “the more you put in, the more you get out.” She also noted that the goal is for every participating store to generate sales on May 2 that exceed, or match, the holiday shopping season. The other goal, she added, is for everyone to have fun.
“[This] is, first and foremost, a celebration,” Schoech said. “We want everyone to have a good time.”