The fourth annual Independent Bookstore Day is taking place on Saturday, April 29th to celebrate all the unique indie bookstores around the country. This is a one-day national party where each individual bookstore celebrates in different ways with live music, authors, cupcakes, scavenger hunts, kids events, art tables, readings, barbeques, contests, and other fun things.
This year, 457 stores around the country are participating, including Byrd’s Books in Bethel, CT. This quaint little bookstore has been open for six and a half years and has been a part of Independent Bookstore Day ever since they first started three years ago. Alice Hutchinson, the owner of Byrd’s Books, talked about how much of a hit this day is and how busy it can get.
“It’s a national celebration. It’s always wild,” Hutchinson said. “People take independent stores very seriously, and events like these help keep us going.” The IBD website cites 85% of participating stores were up an average of 132% over a regular Saturday in April.
Hutchinson also talked about some exclusive items they will be selling that day. No one will be able to preorder them or get them another day; they’re special books and literary items that can only be purchased on that day. On top of two authors, Sharon Struth and Harmony Verna doing book signings and discussions, they will also be giving away free audiobooks to anyone who comes into the store.
In addition, Hutchinson said CT bookstores organized a two-day scavenger hunt where people can win a total of $500 in gift cards. “There are twenty CT bookstores participating,” Hutchinson said. “If you get fifteen stamps, then you get a $25 gift certificate from each store. That’s $500 worth of gift certificates. It’s a very big deal.” The Byrd’s Books website has a “passport” people can print out with all of the locations and names of the bookstores participating in the scavenger hunt. Some of these stores include Bank Street Book Nook in New Milford, Darren Winston Bookseller in Sharon, and On the Road Book Shop in Canton.
Some of the Independent Bookstore Day’s exclusive items from last year are Welcome to Night Vale vinyl recordings, signed prints from authors Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston, literary tea towels with quotes from Virginia Woolf and Oscar Wilde, and packs of literary condoms featuring six “Give Me That Darcy” from Jane Austen and “Great Expectations.” There are two sponsors who help make this event day happen, Libro.fm and Kickstarter. The free audiobooks being distributed out this year are from Libro.fm, and Kickstarter is helping bookstores build min-grants to throw parties.
Independent bookstores are community centers run by avid readers, made from a love and passion for books. They aren’t just stores to buy a book to help pass the time, but they are entire universes, lively performance spaces, and quiet serene places. Bookstores are not a dying art, and they continue to grow and expand with each new book lover who comes their way. The number of independent bookstores grew by 35% between 2009 and 2015, indicating this lively section of our industry has beaten the so-called “retail apocalypse.” There are more independent bookstores this year than last year, and they’re all gearing up to show shoppers a good time this Saturday.
Independent Bookstore Day
Saturday April 29th, 2018
126 Greenwood Ave.
Bethel, CT 06801