Bookstores across Boston celebrated National Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, April 24. Leading up to the day, bookstores announced their plans on social media, which included author talks, raffles and exclusive sales. Porter Square Books, Harvard Book Store, Brookline Booksmith, Trident Booksellers & Cafe, Papercuts J.P. and All She Wrote Books all participated in the day.
IndieBound, an initiative by the American Booksellers Association to facilitate collaboration and communication between independent bookstores, publicized the event. Bookstores registered on their website to participate in the day. Authors were also able to link to independent bookstores on IndieBound, allowing them to earn commissions on sales that they refer to those stores. IndieBound, as stated on its website, is “dedicated to making the world better one independent bookstore at a time.”
IndieBound played a large role in the day. It hosted virtual events featuring many different authors on a variety of panels. Some events included “Solving Mysteries & Fighting Injustice,” “Beyond Fabio: The Modern Romance” and “It’s Funny ‘Cause It’s True: Women Humor Writers Tell All.” It also hosted an event with Glennon Doyle and Alexandra Elle. Doyle, author of “Untamed” (2020) and “Love Warrior” (2016), was the 2021 Bookstore Day Author Ambassador.
The Bookstore Day Twitter account posted photos and videos of bookstores across the country throughout the day, chronicling the widespread excitement of bookstores and their communities. There were Independent Bookstore Day merchandise and clothing for sale as well linked on their feed.
Boston-area bookstores specifically had all sorts of special programming, inviting customers into their stores to celebrate. Brookline Booksmith had a raffle, free pins, patches, keychains and special store merchandise. It raffled off items from other local, small businesses. Raffle prizes included items from Village Vinyl, Tiny Hanger, Olive Connection and New England Comics.
Trident Booksellers & Cafe had a charity book drive, an origami bookmark station and exclusive merchandise, along with a cover scavenger hunt on social media. It also offered a free audiobook when a customer spent at least $15 at the store.
Harvard Book Store celebrated the day online, selling exclusive books, art pieces and limited edition clothing and tote bags. The clothing and totes featured their throwback ’80s mascot, a jester holding a book. It also hosted an independent press spotlight that had a panel featuring Enchanted Lion Books, Europa Editions, Graywolf Press, Milkweed Editions and Tin House.
Porter Square Books hosted a virtual event with Polly Barton, who translated “Where the Wild Ladies Are” (2020) — a novel by Aoko Matsuda and Porter Square Books’ staff pick of 2021. Porter Square Books couldn’t hold its annual Independent Bookstore Day bookseller bake-off, but it did post a video of one of its booksellers as she baked and decorated a cake that looked like two books stacked on top of each other.
Celebrities like Michelle and Barack Obama and Oprah vocalized their support of independent bookstores on social media as well. Former President Obama tweeted a video in which he talked with “some of the folks who help support authors and nourish our communities,” according to his caption. Oprah’s Book Club’s Instagram put up a video of Oprah thanking bookstores for all they do.
Not only did celebrities show their support, but so did bibliophiles and patrons, who took photos and posted little notes about their visits to a bookstore or fond memories in honor of the day. One individual, Paige Terlip, posted a photo in Porter Square Books with the caption, “It’s #IndieBookstoreDay! I might not live in Boston anymore, but @PorterSqBooks will always have a big chunk of my heart.” Dipali Anumol, a current Ph.D. student at The Fletcher School, posted illustrations of Porter Square Books, Brookline Booksmith and Harvard Bookstore.
The excitement by book lovers and booksellers across the country on April 24 illustrated just how important independent bookstores are to their communities.