Traditionally, Independent Bookstore Day, the one-day national promotion for indie bookstores, takes place on the last Saturday in April. This year it was scheduled for April 25, but with stores closed across the country, the day has been rescheduled for August 29.

In lieu of postponing all events, organizers have announced a week-long online promotion it is calling a virtual bookstore party. The promotion will run April 19-25. The ABA and IBD are encouraging bookstores to use the online hashtag #virtualbookstoreparty and have sent out guidance encouraging stores to enlist their customers in the promotion.

To support the event, Sean Doolittle, a pitcher with the Washington Nationals baseball team and IBD ambassador, will be hosting a Twitter chat sometime next week. In addition, the exclusive Independent Bookstore Day edition of Renee Watson’s book Ways to Make Sunshine (Bloomsbury) will go on sale next week and will be shipping from Ingram.

To take advantage pf the event, the organizers suggested the following promotions:

  • Invite people to submit themed reading lists of 8-10 titles. Pick your three favorites and post them on Saturday. (Or post them all). Offer prizes.
  • Announce a Twitter game. Challenge people to come up with 10 novels with titles that start with W (or whatever). First person to post a correct response wins a prize. Do different ones throughout the day.
  • Do a follower giveaway. Rules: follow your page, tag two people in the comments (voila! It gets passed around). Pick a random winner (prize should be a relatively big one).
  • Online events via Zoom or Instagram
  • Can a local author volunteer to read or do story hour through a Zoom?
  • Can a teacher or writer lead a writing workshop online?
  • Hold an online book club.
  • Do a readers introduce where everyone who shows up gets one minute to talk about a favorite book. Pick a winning pitch and send the winner a prize.
  • Share a scavenger hunt, book bingo, or other game that kids and/or grown-ups can do from home.
  • Do drawings for tote bags.
  • Post activities or game cards on your Facebook page and encourage customers to share answers via your social channels.
  • Offer a one-day only incentive for web orders (free shipping, 15% off, etc)
  • Adapt some common bookstore themes for shelter-in-place
  • Bookstore cats can now be home library cats (ask customers to post their bookstore cat on your Facebook page)
  • Challenge your customers to post a #bookshelfie and tag your store in the post
  • Post a photo of a customer’s short book review with the book’s cover