Seattle’s Independent Bookstore Day Is Totally Booked

There are a bounty of options for those looking to indulge their lit-lust on this special day.

When the Mall del Norte branch of B. Dalton booksellers closed in January 2010, CNN reported, the city of Laredo, Texas (population 250,000), became the largest American city without a bookstore. “The closest bookstore is now 150 miles away, in San Antonio,” wrote CNN’s Ed Lavandera. Laredo was likely just the first of many American bookstore deserts, as Barnes & Noble continues to falter with every quarterly earnings report and rural retail zones get sucked dry by Walmart and Amazon.

Seattle stands apart from the nation because we have a dense population of thriving independent bookstores, and on Saturday, April 30, they’re throwing a party to celebrate our unique bookstore culture. Seventeen local booksellers (including far-flung shops like Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo, Edmonds Bookshop, and Island Books on Mercer Island) are observing Independent Bookstore Day with exclusive books, prize giveaways, and author appearances.

For those who want to make a day of it, there’s a special challenge: Customers who get Independent Bookstore Day passports stamped at all 17 Seattle-area bookstores on the 30th will receive 25 percent off every purchase at all participating bookstores for one year. Less-hardy souls who visit only a store or two will still have the opportunity to buy limited-edition merchandise, like a Neil Gaiman-themed coloring book, a bookstore-themed essay written by Ann Patchett, Curious George stuffed animals, and art prints. Locally, Fantagraphics Books is publishing a special anthology comic called Underground Seattle celebrating Seattle’s cartooning scene just for Independent Bookstore Day shoppers.

A complete list of events would be way too long for this space—check your local booksellers’ website for schedules—but highlights include a local sci-fi authors’ panel (featuring Greg Bear, Robin Hobb, Elliott Kay, and Matt Ruff) at University Book Store; free coffee and scones at Third Place Lake Forest Park; a release party for Underground Seattle featuring local cartoonists at Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery; all sorts of cooking demos all day long at the Book Larder; cake at Secret Garden Books; and novelist Stewart O’Nan at Elliott Bay Book Company. (And at 7 p.m., I’ll be chatting onstage with American Book Award-winning author Shann Ray at Phinney Books.)

It’s impossible to imagine a Seattle without its array of independent bookstores catering to every audience, from stalwart genre outposts like Seattle Mystery Bookshop in Pioneer Square—which just earned a new lease on life thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign—to the STEM-obsessed Ada’s Technical Books on Capitol Hill. These bookstores are the reason Seattle has such an atypically overstuffed literary calendar for an American city, with three to seven literary events every single weeknight, and they supply us with our national reputation as a home for hyperliterate book nerds.

Artistically and commercially, Seattle’s values are closely aligned with the values of independent booksellers. We revere books, we loathe censorship, and we absolutely hate it when someone tries to control the way we think. Maybe that’s why we’ve got the best damn bookstores in the country. Independent Bookstore Day, indiebook storeday.com. April 30.

Paul Constant is the co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read daily books coverage like this at seattlereviewofbooks.com.

More in Arts & Culture

Britney Barber (center) and Samantha Demboski (left) perform in ‘Empty Orchestra.’ Photo courtesy Jet City Improv
Making It Up As They Go Along

Jet City Improv’s retributive actions towards a former player raise issues of the comedy institution’s staff culture.

‘Roma’ projects to be the big winner at the 91st Academy Awards this Sunday. Photo by Carlos Somonte
And The Winner Is: 2019 Oscars Preditions

Who will take home the awards on cinema’s biggest night?

TacocaT got you a new song for Valentine’s Day. Photo by Helen Moga
TacocaT Returns to Dance With Its Seattle Drag Pals in the “Grains of Salt” Video

The Seattle rock quartet’s new album ‘This Mess Is a Place’ comes out May 3 on Sub Pop.

After winning the Album of the Year Grammy for ‘Golden Hour,’ Kacey Musgraves yee-haws into town.
Pick List: Kacey Musgraves, Jen Kirkman, ‘The Passage’

The week’s best entertainment options.

Cherdonna Shinatra has a laugh during ‘<em>Ditch</em>.’ Photo by Jenny May Peterson
Clowning Around at the Frye with Cherdonna Shinatra’s ‘Ditch’

The colorful daily dance performance examines performative femininity and people-pleasing.

Mads Mikkelsen stars in Seattle’s current weather… I mean, ‘Arctic.’ Photo by Helen Sloan/Bleecker Street
Mads Mikkelsen Delivers a Tour de Force in ‘Arctic’

The near-silent performance makes this survival film transcend the genre.

Brandi Carlile needs more mantel space after taking winning three Grammys on Sunday night.
Seattle Cleans Up at the Grammys

Brandi Carlile, the Seattle Symphony, and Chris Cornell combine to take home six awards.

The upbeat everyman Emmet remains cheerful even in post-apocalyptic settings. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Everything’s Still Awesome

‘The Lego Movie 2’ builds on the success of the original with more humorous pop culture-drenched adventure.

Susan Lieu performs a version of 140 LBS at Northwest New Works in 2018. Photo by Joe Iano
Susan Lieu Feels The Weight of Death and Beauty

Her one-woman show ‘140 LBS’ confronts her mother’s death via plastic surgery malpractice.

Daniel Bryan flaunts his new eco-friendly WWE Championship. Photo courtesy WWE
Seattle’s Eco-Friendly WWE Champion

Aberdeen native Daniel Bryan once again tops the pro wrestling world, but this time he’s an intriguing environmental bad guy.