Chicago Independent Bookstore Day draws indie store fans

One participating bookstore reported a 300 percent increase in sales.

Ann Hermes
Chicago bookstore The Book Cellar was one of the stores that participated in Chicago Independent Bookstore Day.

The first Chicago Independent Bookstore Day was held on July 12, with nine bookstores teaming up to hold the celebration. 

The Book Cellar, 57th Street Books, City Lit Books, Open Books Store, Powell’s Bookstore, Sandmeyer’s Bookstore, Seminary Co-Op Bookstore, Unabridged Bookstore, and Women & Children First Bookstore participated in various ways with author signings, giveaways, and the distribution of puzzle pieces that could be brought together to form a print by artist Lilli Carré. 

All activities were designed to support business and heighten awareness of Chicago's independent bookstores.

Different bookstores celebrated in different ways, with most reporting a gratifying response from customers. Five patrons were standing outside Open Books when it opened, Kevin Elliot of Open Books told Chicagoist writer Jaclyn Bauer. The store was offering a bag filled with books and other items to the first 20 customers who spent $30 or more. The Book Cellar had discounts, free advance reading copies, and cupcakes. Women & Children First offered two free advance reading copies and had writer Mary Schmich signing ARCS of her book “Even the Terrible Things Seem Beautiful.” Powell’s Bookstores hosted author Eula Biss.

Open Books stated on Twitter that they saw a 300 percent increase in sales. “We can't stop thanking you for making #chicagobookstoreday a success!” bookstore staff wrote. Meanwhile, Women & Children First Bookstore staff wrote on Facebook, “The first-ever Chicago Independent Bookstore Day, was quite a day! Hundreds of people visited the store, many of them ... were collecting the puzzle pieces, hoping to complete the puzzle designed by Lilli Carre. The first couple through our door in the morning planned to visit all 9 stores in one day, via public transportation! (We really hope they were successful!)”

All signs point to another celebration being held next year – Powell’s Bookstore staff wrote on Facebook that they were “looking forward to next year” and Seminary Co-Op staff tweeted the same.

Chicago’s Independent Bookstore Day followed a California Bookstore Day that was held this past May.

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