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When most people think of bookstores, they think of Barnes and Noble, or even perhaps the long-forgotten and well-missed Borders bookstores. However, there are also those small local bookstores that seem so iconic in someone’s hometown, but they never really get the attention they deserve.

Thus, Independent Bookstore Day was born. For those who are a fan of the written word, the bound liturgy, the totality of textbooks, the valor of vellum, and the preponderance of parchment, now is the time to sound that battle cry for Independent Bookstore Day:

“It’s time to get your read on!”

History of Independent Bookstore Day

While the history of bookselling hails back to ancient times, bookstores themselves are a bit newer. Perhaps it isn’t recorded exactly which bookstore was the first to be opened and where. However, what is known is that the oldest bookstore in the world that is still in operation is located in Lisbon, Portugal, known as Livraria Bertrand. This iconic bookstore was opened in 1732.

Now, it’s time to fast forward almost two centuries to find the first national Independent Bookstore Day being established. This day was started in 2015 by Samantha Schoech, a writer, copywriter and editor and the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association.

Over 400 independent bookstores participated in the first event, which was rather successful. The day is aimed to help independent bookstores have higher sales in their merchandise and help bring into the spotlight the potential of these indie bookstores.

Independent Bookstores Day even has their own merchandise produced, and thus stores all over the country can take the time out to sell this merchandise as part of the celebration.

Much of the aim of these indie bookstores is to keep to their roots in traditional print as modern society moves into a digital age. These stores also help advertise new and budding authors who are working and making efforts to sell their novels or works of literature.

In just one year, International Bookstore Day produced an 85 percent increase in profits for the 420 stores that participated in the event. Not only that, but in the media, there were over 201 stories produced online about this important day.

The passion behind this day comes from the idea that bookstores aren’t just a place to buy books, but a place where communities gather together and express their love for stories. They become good places for kids to learn about literature and for adults to come in the midst of the day and relax with a good book.

Bookstores are places of connection and community, and this is the perfect day to celebrate Independent Bookstores!

Independent Bookstore Day Timeline


Barnes & Noble opens in New York City 

Originally an independent, this started as Arthur Hinds & Co. It was originally independent but was sold in the 1960s, eventually growing into America’s largest bookstore chain–and no longer independent.[1]


Shakespeare and Company opens in Paris 

An American in Paris, Sylvia Beach is a bookseller and publisher in whose shop the likes of James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway will hang out.[2]


Strand opens in New York City 

For years this was the largest used bookstore in the world with 18 miles of books.[3]


You’ve Got Mail is released in theaters 

This movie starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks is a rom-com following an independent bookstore owner as she falls in love with the head of a giant bookstore who is putting her out of business.[4]


Atlantis Books opens in Santorini 

This famous bookstore was started when two students visited the island, quickly ran out of reading material, and realized the island needed a bookstore.[5]

How to Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day

Enjoying and celebrating Independent Bookstore Day can be loads of fun! Look into some of these ways of observing this important day:

Support an Independent Bookstore

There are hundreds of books to read, you just gotta pick one up and get reading. Support a local bookstore by heading over to one, browsing, and buying some books from there. And this isn’t the only day to buy from them, it’s a great idea to consider making purchases locally all the time!

For those who enjoy the atmosphere at a local bookstore, it might be a great idea to help volunteer for events at the bookstore and inspire others to become book-lovers as well!

Watch a Film about a Bookstore

Some fun and interesting movies have been made featuring bookstores and their owners. Invite some friends over and watch one of these films in celebration of Independent Bookstore Day:

  • You’ve Got Mail (1998). In this rom com, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan play two characters who fall in love but need to overcome the fact that they each run very different types of bookstores.
  • Notting Hill (1999). The owner of a travel bookshop in Notting Hill, played by Hugh Grant, falls in love with a movie star portrayed by Julia Roberts in this romantic comedy.
  • The Bookshop (2017). Emily Mortimer plays a bookshop owner who tries to open a bookstore in a small coastal town in England in the late 1950s.
  • The Booksellers (2019). This documentary is a unique, behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the rare book world in New York City.

Attend an Event at an Independent Bookstore

On Independent Bookstore Day, many local book shops and book sellers will host various events in their locations. These might include various readings by local authors, signing parties, poetry jams and other promotional events.

Other independent bookstores might hold discounts, sales or promotions that customers want. Offerings may also include exclusive merchandise and collectible limited editions that foster the uniqueness customers come to expect from locally owned bookstores.

Share about Independent Bookstore Day

Whether speaking about it with family, friends and coworkers, or sharing about it on social media, this is a great time to get people online interested in reading more and supporting local booksellers.

Start Working at an Independent Bookstore

Or, to be even more supportive, consider trying to find a job at a bookstore. This might be a fun way to earn a little extra cash on the weekends – and there may be some perks like getting an extra employee discount on books and other items.

Open an Independent Bookstore

For those who are really daring, this may be the perfect time to create a bookstore of their own! Find a location, order some inventory, establish contracts with authors and publishers, build community and enjoy the excellent lifestyle of being a business owner of an independent book shop.

Independent Bookstore Day FAQs

What is Independent Bookstore Day?

This is a ‘one-day national party’ that takes place in independent bookstores across the country to recognize and celebrate their uniqueness and importance.[1]

When is Independent Bookstore Day?

Independent Bookstore Day falls annually on the last Saturday in April.[2]

Why is Independent Bookstore Day important?

Independent Bookstore Day reminds people that these businesses are good for the local economy, contribute to a city’s uniqueness and bring local readers together.[3]

How to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day?

This day is best celebrated by going to a locally owned bookstore, checking out the shelves, making a purchase, and telling them how much they are appreciated.[4]

Can Independent Bookstores survive?

Yes! Many independent bookstores have made a comeback, especially when they are in communities that recognize their benefits and support their efforts.[5]

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