• Marcy Farrey

4 Things I Loved About 2018 Independent Bookstore Day

The 2018 Independent Bookstore Day was a success last weekend, and I'm already feeling nostalgic!

It’s one week later, and I woke up wishing every Saturday could be Independent Bookstore Day! While the official day is over, I see many weekends in my future doing my own mini bookstore crawls.

Independent Bookstore Day is one of my favorite days of the year, regardless of whether I complete the challenge or make it to every event. It’s all about that joyful feeling you get from finding a new book with new stories you can’t wait to soak in, that feeling of community and warmth you get from entering an indie store with staff who care about your experience both as a customer and a reader, and that feeling that you’re amongst a growing community made of individuals who love books and who care enough about their communities to buy from their local stores. Yes, there is a lot to love about this day!

This year, I was not among those that made it to 10 or 15 stores, but I still celebrated and enjoyed every minute. Crosby and I are certainly slower browsers and we like taking our time, so we decided to keep to our usual pace. Plus, we got the opportunity to attend One for the Books later in the evening – I was one of the lucky ticket winners! (You can see my blog on the event here.)

Based on my experience of the day and what I saw on social media, here’s a few of my favorite aspects of this year’s Independent Bookstore Day:

  • The Passport – I loved the Passport they created for the challenge this year. It was compact and easy for participants to carry, and the stickers and stamps from each store were so cute! I seriously want to go to all the stores I missed and ask if they have any stickers left, just so I can have them. Last year’s cards on the keyring were cool, but a little harder to carry and keep track of. Having them hole-punched seemed to be a problem at a few of the stores too, so I think the book and sticker method was a lot easier for everyone.

  • Collaboration with other local stores – I saw a few social posts from stores that had brought in beverages and treats from other local indie businesses, most notably Women & Children First, who had treats from Sauce and Bread and the Coffee Studio. I know I’ll be checking out both of those spots now, so it certainly works to bring in some outside partners when possible.

  • The crowds - Almost every store I went to was consistently busy, and in some cases, quite crowded! Getting around Open Books in Pilsen was a challenge, but totally worth standing awkwardly behind people until they moved on from your favorite section…

  • The spirit! All of the bookstore workers seemed genuinely excited about the challenge and were asking everyone how far along they were. When we entered Open Books in the West Loop, the manager quickly greeted us with a “Happy Independent Bookstore Day!” and it instantly made me smile.

If anything, I wished all of the stores stayed open to a set time for the challenge. Some closed on the early side, and I found myself rushing out of a few stops. And in most cases, I probably would’ve bought more books if they’d stayed open a bit longer. But as I mentioned, I’m rather slow when browsing, hence the reason I didn’t make it to all 10!

It seems like Independent Bookstore Day was a success all around. According to the American Booksellers Association, more than 500 stores total participated around the country – that’s up from 400 stores last year. And according to the MyChicagoBookstore Twitter page, 64 people successfully visited 10 stores and 25 made it to 15 stores in Chicago.

I’m happy to see what Independent Bookstore Day has done to raise awareness of local independent stores in neighborhoods across the country. As this fine tradition continues, I hope to see the number of stores and customers participating continue to rise. And I hope to document it all along the way on indieland!

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