California Bookstore Day garners good sales – will it go national?

The first-ever California Bookstore Day was held on May 3 and many stores hosted special events, while publishers created special items for the celebration.

Robert Harbison
Lucy the cat sleeps on a table at Skylight Books, an independent bookstore located in Los Angeles, Calif.

The first-ever California Bookstore Day was held on May 3 and many stores reported financial success as well as good turnouts for events. 

The idea for the celebration came from Pete Mulvihill, co-owner of San Francisco’s Green Apple Books. As Mulvihill told the American Booksellers Association, the idea came from Record Store Day, which is celebrated every year in April. "The artists and labels produce really unique, one-of-a-kind things, and you can only get them at a record store and on Record Store Day,” Mulvihill said. “That exclusivity and cool factor is what makes people line up at the stores."

More than 90 stores participated in the celebration and California Bookstore Day was sponsored by the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association. Some publishers created items to be sold exclusively on that day by California bookstores, including Random House, which made a special edition of George Saunders’ “Congratulations, by the way,” and HarperCollins, which released a cloth-bound version of Neil Gaiman’s story “The Sleeper and the Spindle.”

As for the inaugural celebration, Publishers Weekly reported that every single store that got back to executive director of NCIBA Hut Landon and executive director of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Andrea Vuleta reported an increase in sales from a Saturday the year before, from the 20 percent reported by Pasadena’s Vroman’s Bookstore to the whopping 275 percent that Green Apple Books staff said the store experienced. 

Events at stores included a scavenger hunt at Brentwood’s Diesel Books and a literary-themed trivia competition at Pasadena’s Prospect Park Books.

Before the event was held, ABA CEO Oren Teicher said of California Bookstore Day in a statement, “We hope to learn from their experience and determine if there is logical progression to a national bookstore day.” So California may not be the only state celebrating their local indies in the future.

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