Independent bookstores are not just stores, they’re community centers and local anchors run by passionate readers. They are entire universes of ideas that contain the possibility of real serendipity.
Independent Bookstore Day is a one-day national party that takes place at indie bookstores across the country on the last Saturday in April. Every store is unique and independent, and every party is different. But in addition to authors, live music, cupcakes, scavenger hunts, kids’ events, art tables, readings, barbecues, contests, and other fun stuff, there are exclusive books and literary items that you can only get on that day. Not before. Not after. Not online.
Independent bookstores are not just stores, they’re community centers and local anchors run by passionate readers. They are entire universes of ideas that contain the possibility of real serendipity. They are lively performance spaces and quiet places where aimless perusal is a day well spent.
The Independent Bookstore Day website includes an interactive map so you can locate the participating store nearest you. As of press time, the sixteen participating Texas stores included on the map are: Absolutely Fiction Books (Lufkin), Blue Willow Books (Houston), Book Attic (Tomball), Book Nook (Brenham), BookPeople (Austin), BookWoman (Austin), Brazos Bookstore (Houston), Front Street Books (Alpine), Interabang Books (Dallas), Katy Budget Books (Houston), Lark and Owl Booksellers (Georgetown), Monkey And Dog Books (Fort Worth), Murder By The Book (Houston), Once & Again (The Woodlands), Storybook Garden (Weslaco), and The Twig Book Shop (San Antonio). The Twig has special hours on this day due to the Fiesta Flambeau Parade so check before you go.
Some highlights planned at these Texas stores include: Inprint Houston’s Poetry Buskers and a visit from Barbara Epler, president and publisher of New Directions Publishing at Brazos Bookstore in Houston; story time with local author Lori Samocha and illustrator Lauri Johnston, who will share W Is for Weird: An Austin Alphabet at BookPeople; and local authors Dan Peeler and Charlie Rose will read and sign their Dragon books, including a performing Dragon marionette and a children’s craft, at Interabang Books.
If you’re in or near Austin, you can take part in the Austin Bookstore Crawl. Participating bookstores are Austin Books and Comics, Balcones Books, BookPeople, BookWoman, Dragon's Lair, Half Price Books (all Austin locations), Malvern Books, Monkey Wrench Books, South Congress Books, and Tribe Comics and Games.
Here’s how the Crawl works:
1) Visit three or more of the participating bookstores on April 27. To enter the drawing for the grand prize, you must include at least three sponsoring bookstores in your crawl. They're clearly listed and marked on a map on the website.
2) Complete each store’s designated scavenger hunt task and post a picture on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Be sure to use the #atxbookstorecrawl hashtag and tag the store’s account. Tasks will be announced on the website on Friday, April 26.
3) To enter to win the grand prize, you need to send screenshots of your social media posts to firstname.lastname@example.org. These screenshots ensure that you posted on your social media accounts, tagged the independent bookstore (if available), and found your three scavenger items.
New this year for the Austin Bookstore Crawl is a Post-Crawl Party at The Big Medium gallery (space 105) at Canopy from 5 to 8 p.m. The party boasts an art installation, free drinks, dairy-free ice cream, and a few local organizations will be tabling. The grand prize winners will be announced at the Post-Crawl Party, and there will be a separate raffle for those attending.
The 2019 Independent Bookstore Day author ambassador Tayari Jones (An American Marriage) says, “Indie stores stock books by hand and sell them the same way. They know what we want and need to read because they know us, as people. A writer is not a machine. A reader is not an app. We are human beings and so are the independent bookstore workers who show up each day and place books in our hands.”
In a world of tweets and algorithms and pageless digital downloads, bookstores are not a dying anachronism. They are living, breathing organisms that continue to grow and expand. In fact, there are more of them this year than there were last year. And they are at your service.
Independent Bookstore Day began in California in 2014 and became a national event the next year. A host of publishers and authors such as Neil Gaiman, George Saunders, Roxane Gay, Lauren Groff, James Patterson, Stephen King, and many others have donated work in support of the event. Independent Bookstore Day (IBD) is produced by writer and former bookseller Samantha Schoech in partnership with the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association. Its sponsors include Penguin Random House, Ingram, Shelf Awareness, and the American Bookseller’s Association.