Berkeley bookstores participate in 1st annual independent bookstore day

Ariel Hayat/Senior Staff

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On Saturday, several bookstores in Berkeley celebrated the first annual Independent Bookstore Day, which aims to strengthen the ties between communities and their local bookstores across the nation.

Following the success of last year’s first-ever California Bookstore Day, which raked in 20 to 60 percent sales increases for California bookstores on average, the celebration has since expanded to 45 states.

“Our original mission last year was simply to create a day like Record Store Day to celebrate independent bookstores and the reading and writing community,” said Samantha Schoech, the program director for Bookstore Day, in a statement. “We also wanted to change the tired narrative of bookstores hanging on by a thread and being these musty throwback shops.”

After the popularity of California Bookstore Day, booksellers around the country began to express interest, Schoech said.

“The (American Booksellers Association) gave us $25,000 seed money to take it national,” Schoech said, “and we worked with the other regional independent booksellers associations to reach out to stores across the country.”

Schoech acknowledged that independent bookstores faced tough times during the 1990s but said the industry has revived itself. She also said that in recent years, more independent bookstores have opened than have closed.

Independent Bookstore Day is organized by the Northern California Independent Bookstore Association and the American Booksellers Association and is sponsored by Penguin Random House.

The NCIBA promoted this year’s event to bookstores by creating special merchandise for stores to sell, such as a signed book of essays by Roxane Gay, a Margaret Atwood stencil and a color broadside from Stephen King’s forthcoming novel.

“It definitely raises revenue that draws attention to Moe’s and indie bookstores in general. It’s a fun way to work collectively with other bookstores,” said Doris Moskowitz, owner of Moe’s Books on Telegraph Avenue.

University Press Books on Bancroft Way also partook in the celebrations with a sale on literature as well as special merchandise, according to manager Christina Creveling.

“We’ve only done it once, and there was some activity,” Creveling said. “But we’re a specialty bookstore and far from campus, so there are a lot of factors that make it different for us. It’s hard to gauge yet.”

Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary & Garden Arts bookstore in Elmwood hosted a variety of events for their second year participating in Bookstore Day, including a joke-a-thon in the morning and succulent planting and pruning demonstrations in the afternoon, according to Marion Abbott, one of the store’s founders.

“It’s fun to throw a party and have all these enthusiastic customers come in to your store and have a wonderful time,” Schoech said. “And it further cements a bookstore’s role in a community.”

Contact Ivana Saric at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @ivanas26.