This year's Independent Bookstore Day is taking place on Saturday, August 29. Traditionally, 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 due to the pandemic, the day was postponed. Sean Doolittle, pitcher for the Washington Nationals baseball team, is this year’s Independent Bookstore Day ambassador. He was promoting the event on social media (since deleted) and has produced two lists of recommended reading.
Now in its sixth year, the event is administered by the American Booksellers Association and more than 600 stores are expected to participate, up from 580 last year. Typically, bookstores hold in-store promotions and readings, but this year the celebration will feature a series of virtual events that start at 1 p.m. ET., with the final event taking place at 8 p.m. ET.
In the past a main feature of IBD have been regional or city-wide contests which encourage customers to visit as many stores in a given region as they can on the day. That kind of collaboration is out, but some groups are working collectively to promote the day. In Brooklyn, for example, stores are offering mugs and t-shirts with a design by Ping Hatta. In the Bronx, pop-up bookstores Boogie Down Books and Bronx Bound Books have partnered with community organization the Bronx is Reading to create a special poster and promote readings by local authors on Zoom and giveaways.
Other stores are offering their own events as well. Murder by the Book in Houston is featuring a conversation between James Lee Burke and Stephen King on YouTube, while Books & Books in Miami is offering a panel of local writers who contributed to an anthology of local travel stories.
Still other stores are holding live events. Main Street Books in Mansfield, Ohio, for example, is throwing a socially distanced party around scavenger hunts with discounts on merchandise as prizes.
As in previous years, there are exclusive items for sale on the day, including candles and facemasks.
Publishers too are offering some special promotions, including one from Europa Editions, which gives independent bookstore customers a free e-book of Elena Ferrante’s Frantumaglia when they pre-order The Lying Life of Adults, which publishes on September 1. The book's translator, Ann Goldstein is hosting an IBD kick off event on Friday, August 28.
LIbro.fm is offering free audiobooks when customers pre-order from a selection of print titles from and independent bookstore.
The official IBD roster of events on Zoom is as follows.
Kids’ and YA events:
- 1:00 p.m. ET: Lisa Brown drawing class from Goldfish Ghost (Zoom link)
- 1:30 p.m. ET: Gene Luen Yang (Dragon Hoops) graphic novel discussion and tips (Zoom link)
- 2:00 p.m. ET: Middle Grade Fun with Renee Watson (Ways to Make Sunshine) and illustrator Nina Mata (I Promise) with moderator Isaac Fitzgerald (How to Be a Pirate) (Zoom link)
- 3:00 p.m. ET: Feminist, Fantasy YA with Kat Cho (Wicked Fox and Vicious Spirits), Rena Barron (Kingdom of Souls and Reaper of Souls), and Rebecca Kim Wells (Shatter the Sky). (Zoom link)
- 4:00 p.m. ET: Amor Towles reading and discussing his book You Have Arrived at Your Destination (Zoom link)
- 5:00 p.m. ET: Writing the West with Reyna Grande (The Distance Between Us), Lauren Francis-Sharma (Book of the Little Axe) and Rishi Reddi (Passage West: A Novel) (Zoom link)
- 6:00 p.m. ET: Telling the Stories of the Pandemic: All-star Author Panel from Alone Together: Stories of Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19 (all profits from the book benefit the Book Industry Charitable Foundation) (Zoom link)
- 8:00 p.m. ET: Bookstore Day Ambassador Showcase with Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Lauren Groff (Fates & Furies and Florida) and Emma Straub (All Adults Here) (Zoom link)
This article has been updated with further information.