Saturday, April 28th was Independent Bookstore Day. In a prior post on the subject, I explored the event’s background and discussed some of its potential benefits for local bookstores. This year, however, I wanted to experience the event for myself.
2018’s Independent Bookstore Day was marked with the usual promotions designed to entice book-lovers such as exclusive items and one-day-only sales. The Brooklyn Bookstore Crawl, now in its third year, boasted more than 30 participating bookstores across the borough. New for 2018 was an official after party where Bookstore Crawl participants could mingle with local authors and bookstore employees. The entry fee? A receipt dated April 28, 2018 from any independent Brooklyn bookstore allowed admission to the event and granted attendees one grand prize raffle ticket. Additional receipts that met the same criteria also provided participants with raffle tickets. In other words, the more you shopped and supported your local bookstores, the better your chances of winning a gift basket of book-related goodies from “Out of Print.” Social media posts that utilized the #BKBOOKCRAWL hashtag and individual bookstore tags entered participants for a chance to win other prizes from book-related and Brooklyn-based companies including Bed-Vyne Brew, Brooklyn Museum, House of Yes, and Litographs.
In addition to the annual Brooklyn Bookstore Crawl, the Strand Bookstore and eleven other New York City-based independent bookstores collaborated to offer a multi-day, citywide scavenger hunt. Each participating store asked patrons to find items or complete various tasks at each location and post their efforts on social media with the hashtag #IndieBookstoreDayNYC. Participants that used the hashtag to document their scavenger hunt finds would be entered “for a chance to win bookish swag.” Although I was unable to visit all twelve bookstores on the list, I did have a chance to visit three of the participating stores – Book Culture on Columbus, the Strand, and McNally Jackson Soho – which I will discuss in three upcoming posts.
So now two key questions: 1) Did Independent Bookstore Day 2018 achieve its goal of creating “a one-day national party” that celebrates the diverse range of independent bookstores and the communities they inhabit? and 2) Did Independent bookstore day increase both awareness and sales for these local stores? Data from Instagram shows that posts using the #indiebookstoreday2018 hashtag were just over double the number of posts using the hashtag from the prior year, suggesting that awareness of the day, at least, did increase from last year. An article released by Publisher’s Weekly notes that “507 indies in 48 states” had plans to participate in 2018’s Independent Bookstore Day – a 5% increase from the prior year – and The American Booksellers Association published an article quoting their CEO, Oren Teicher who states that, “sales in the indie channel for the week of [Independent Bookstore Day] this year were up 9.54 percent over sales in the comparable week in 2017.”
These figures do suggest that Independent Bookstore Day is not only a growing “holiday,” but also an excellent way to increase store revenues. Special activities, like the scavenger hunt or bookstore crawl, both encourage sales and showcase the uniqueness of or “personality” of each store. The activities provide a means for participant exploration and immersion while also allowing bookstore patrons to experience the sense of community that these stores embody. I am curious to see how stores will choose to participate next year!
Brooklyn Bookstore Crawl Logo from: https://www.bkbookcrawl.com
Publishers Weekly: “Independent Bookstore Day 2018: It’s a Holiday”
American Booksellers Association: “Fourth Independent Bookstore Day a Nationwide Hit”