On Saturday, April 28 at over 500 locations around the country, booksellers are throwing the coolest literary party of the year: Independent Bookstore Day. Make sure you don't miss out on any of this year's fun events, exclusive offers, and amazing programming by learning everything you need to know about the annual celebration from the 2018 Independent Bookstore Day Author Ambassador, Celeste Ng, who filled Bustle in on all the exciting details.
A one-day national party that celebrates all things bookish, Independent Bookstore Day is held every year on the last Saturday in April. In independent locations across the country, booksellers have planned celebrations as unique as their stores, each one different from the next. While some stores will have live concerts, costume contests, and cocktail hours, others will host scavenger hunts, author readings, and story times. No matter the party style, though, each participating location will have plenty of cool giveaways, fun freebies, and exclusive books and literary swag only available on Independent Bookstore Day. It is a book-lovers holiday that seeks to honor not only books and reading, but the special role independent bookstores play in both their communities and the greater literary world at large.
"I hope Independent Bookstore Day will help more people see that bookstores aren’t just places to buy books; they’re the center of a whole ecosystem of readers, writers, and booksellers, as well as important centers for conversation and community," Celeste Ng tells Bustle of this year's celebration. "And then I hope they’ll start buying more of their books at their local stores, to support them! Sometimes people just aren’t aware their indie bookstores are there until they actually visit, and maybe the celebrations will being more people across the thresholds."
As if you need a reason to hit the bookstore this or any other weekend, Independent Bookstore Day is making it impossible to stay away from the stacks on Saturday. Between the incredible promotions, themed parties, and unique activities for readers of all ages, how can a book-lover resist? The exclusive bookstore swag — including a "Fight the Power" utility pouch inspired by The Underground Railroad author Colson Whitehead, a "Bad Citizen" graffiti stencil featuring Margaret Atwood's timely The Handmaid's Tale quote, "Don't let the bastards grind you down," and official IBD totes and t-shirts — only available for purchase on Indie Bookstore Day is enough to inspire any bibliophile to cancel their plans and head to their local store store. The online promotions like Libro.fm's offer for a free audiobooks to new and established users in honor of Independent Bookstore Day is icing on the bookish cake.
Unsurprisingly, one of the most exciting items on IBD is, of course, a book. According to Ng, several writers (including herself) have written pieces of flash fiction for a book-themed anthology: "It’s available only at indies, and only on Independent Bookstore Day," she says, so you have to show up Saturday to get your hands on one.
Potterheads are definitely going to want make an appearance at IBD 2018, too, because the indies are pulling out all the stops to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. According to organizers, there will be a special themed gift for all Bookstore Day attendees. Will you finally get your letter to Hogwarts, or, at the very least, a working wand? Booksellers are keeping the surprise underwraps, so you'll have to visit your local indie this weekend to find out.
To many book-lovers, Independent Bookstore Day is like Christmas in April, but for other readers, it is an opportunity to discover new bookish resources and give back to their local community at the same time. According to Ng, independent bookstores offer a lot of services people might not realize. "They can usually special-order any book in print at no extra charge—just ask at the counter. Many indies have customer loyalty programs, and most will ship books to you or a gift recipient. If you prefer ebooks, quite a few indies offer books via Kobo. And whenever you buy at an independent bookstore, most of that money stays in your immediate community," Ng says. "I learned recently that shifting even a small percentage of your book buying—as little as 1 in every 10 books you buy—goes a huge way towards the health of your local bookstore and your community. So when you shop locally, you’re helping the local economy, too."
According to the organizers of the 2018 Independent Bookstore Day, in past years, some participating stores have reported up to a 1,000 percent increase in sales compared to other days of the year. Not only does the day seek to promote reading, literacy, and a general love of books, but it strives to support communities all across the country. "When you shop locally," Ng says, "you're helping the local economy, too," and that is what the celebration is all about: fostering community and connecting on a local level.
Support independent bookstores this Saturday, April 28, and beyond by shopping locally, attending events, joining book clubs, and talking up your favorite stores. "And come to Independent Bookstore Day," Ng urges. "The goal is to celebrate the community of readers and booksellers, because one feeds the other."