More than 600 stores participated in this year’s Independent Bookstore Day. Typically, 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 was moved to August 29 due to the pandemic. The ABA, which organized IBD, hosted a full roster of virtual presentations, while booksellers, largely unable to host in-store events, found creative ways to connect with their communities.
Beth Helfrich, events manager at Main Street Books in Davidson, N.C., said the store held several events outside and hosted a Where’s Waldo hunt with other local stores. A bookmark-making tent was also set up on the sidewalk in front of Main Street. “It was a very successful day,” she added.
The Book Shop of Beverly Farms in Beverly, Mass., offered exclusive IBD merchandise and discounts. “We had great participation from the community across the board,” said co-owner Hannah Harlow.
At Watermark Books & Cafe in Wichita, Kans., sales were up from regular days this summer, but “down considerably from last year, maybe 40%,” said owner Sarah Bagby,
While any sales spike must be contextualized, the day did its job, bringing much-needed attention to indie stores. “I think the seed was planted to shop indie this holiday season,” said Holland Saltsman, owner of Novel Neighbor in Webster Grove, Mo. “IBD gave us hope that the fourth quarter will be wonderful.”
While this IBD was different, not all traditions were lost. Mary Laur, senior editor at University of Chicago Press, engaged in one IBD challenge: the bookstore crawl. She visited several stores in Chicago on the day, including the Book Cellar, Seminary Co-op, and Women & Children First. “Not being able to browse in indie stores was one of the toughest parts of the shutdown for me,” she said. “Mail orders and curbside pickup are just not the same, though I keep ordering this way to help sustain them in this difficult time.”
Loyalty Books in Silver Spring, Md., put the manager’s family to work promoting IBD.
Women & Children First in Chicago allowed 12 customers in the store at a time, prompting a modest line to form outside.
Booksellers at Novel Neighbor in Webster Groves, Mo., said IBD was “one of our top-selling days.”
Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Va., hosted a virtual book fair with sponsored booths.
Watermark Books in Wichita, Kans., designed activities to put customers in a literary frame of mind.