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Rain Didn't Hamper Independent Bookstore Day

By Jaclyn Bauer in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 14, 2014 3:30PM

Photo credit: Lucy Rendler-Kaplan

This past Saturday was Chicago’s first Independent Bookstore Day. From the time the stores cracked their doors open until it was time to close up shop, there were sales, author signings, food tastings and even free book giveaways.

Despite the monsoon that started the morning off, avid book readers were not deterred. In fact, Kevin Elliot of Open Books River North said that there were five people waiting outside before it was even time to open the store. Those first five were probably inspired by the free bag of books the store touted early arrivals would receive: at least that’s what prompted me to rush out by the store’s opening.

The first 20 customers who spent at least $30 did in fact receive a bag of free books. A tote bag mind you, with over ten books inside. My bag included The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai among others. There were coupons and posters in the bag, plus customers had the option to participate in a puzzle piece scavenger hunt.

All of the bookstores that participated in IBD facilitated the ongoing puzzle piece hunt. Each bookstore started 20 people on their scavenging journey, each person was given a box with a set of six puzzle pieces, as well as a passport for each of the other participating bookstores to stamp before giving them another set of six puzzle pieces. As the pieces are collected, they will begin to paint a picture designed by local artist Lilli CarrĂ©. The catch is that participants have to make it to each of the nine bookstores before Aug. 3. Puzzle scavengers don’t have to spend any more than their original $30 to obtain the remaining puzzle pieces, but let’s be honest: it’s hard for a book lover to go into a bookstore without buying at least one book.

Women and Children First gave each customer two free galley books and a chance to enter a raffle if they spent at least $10. It wasn’t too difficult to hit that mark with Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich signing her new collection of columns entitled Even the Terrible Things Seem Beautiful in the store.

The Book Cellar offered free cupcakes, free galley books, discounts on all purchases and a chance to enter a raffle as well.

I only hit three of the nine bookstores, which didn’t quite make my ambitious quota of five, but I was pretty proud since my plans to bike were foiled by the pelting rain and a huge bag of unexpectedly free books. Unfortunately I missed out on the happenings at 57th Street Books and Seminary Co-op, Sandmeyer's, Unabridged Books, Powell's Bookstore and City Lit Books. But, like many other participants, I still have my puzzle pieces to collect from each location, so I’ll have to make my way over soon.

All in all, the day was a great success, and every bibliophile’s dream come true. Now with a little more traction, there’s no doubt that next year’s Independent Bookstore Day will be of an equal, if not higher, caliber than the first.