July 15, 2014

Chicago proclaims its Independent Bookstore Day a smash success


Chicago's celebration of indie bookstores was a big success. ©MaxyM / via Shutterstock

Chicago’s celebration of indie bookstores was a big success.
©MaxyM / via Shutterstock

Over the weekend, Chicago held its first Independent Bookstore Day throughout the city, after—as Claire Kirch describes it in Publishers Weekly—not much more than a month of planning. By all accounts, the event was a huge hit, as local indies drew in big crowds and sold books like gangbusters.

Unabridged Books manager Stefan Moorehead came up with the idea for Indie Bookstore Day, which was held on Saturday, July 12, by nine different bookstores, including (in addition to Unabridged) 57th Street Books, Women and Children First, City Lit Books, the Book Cellar, and others. Moorehead was thrilled with the outcome, describing it as “Book Christmas in July,” and adding that “This was a tremendous success of a day. Our Chicago book community was hungry for this. They want an excuse to celebrate indie bookstores in public and to share it with their friends. We gave Chicago a chance to show they care about us and they came through in an unprecedented over-abundance.”

Kirch writes that every bookstore PW contacted said that Indie Bookstore Day “exceeded expectations,” given the limited notice and funding, though an official proclamation from mayor Rahm Emanuel probably drove more people to the bookstores. With stores offering discounts, raffles, author appearances, and donated swag from publishers, they were packed with customers all day and into the night on Saturday. Per Moorehead, Unabridged’s sales were up 150%, and despite a rainy morning, there were a few customers waiting at the door for the store to open. Over at Women and Children First, co-owner Linda Bubon said, “I don’t think we’ve had such a Saturday since Jimmy Carter. It felt like a holiday.”

While plans for a second Indie Bookstore Day are still preliminary, Moorehead confirmed that a repeat performance is in the works for 2015, possibly expanding to include many of Chicago’s suburban stores outside the city limits.


Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.