A teacher, a photographer, a musician, a marketing professional, and a university student are the grand prize winning readers in the American Booksellers Association’s #shopindiesfirstsweepstakes.
As part of a special giveaway in celebration of Indies First on Small Business Saturday, Instagram and Twitter users shared posts about indie bookstores between November 15 and 26 for a chance to win $1,000 worth of books from Penguin Random House.
The #shopindiesfirstsweepstakes generated nearly 1,000 posts throughout the 12-day submission period.
To enter, shoppers tagged an indie bookstore by including the store’s Twitter or Instagram handle; writing out the store’s name, city, and state; or using a store location tag in the post.
A random drawing determined the five grand prize winners, who will each receive $1,000 worth of books. In addition, the independent bookstores named in the winning posts will each receive $1,000 worth of books to be donated to a local nonprofit.
The five winners, pending verification of eligibility, and the respective winning bookstores are:
- Jennifer Kelly - Inkwood Books, Haddonfield, NJ
- Nancy Barnhart - Riverwalk Books, Chelan, WA
- Cherie Hall - The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT
- Marissa Wais - Source Booksellers, Detroit, MI
- Zainab Jabak - Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX
Kelly, an English teacher from Woodstown, New Jersey, was shopping at Inkwood Books in Haddonfield for a copy of Jason Reynolds’ Long Way Down (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books) for her eighth-grade classroom when she snapped the photos she shared on Twitter and Instagram to enter the sweepstakes. “When I received an Instagram message that I won, I was shocked, and I had to re-read it,” Kelly said. “I was so excited because I’m always trying to get more books for my classroom. This is going to allow me to put more books into my students’ hands.”
Kelly said Haddonfield is just 10 minutes from her home. “My husband and I love going there, getting a cup of coffee, and walking over to Inkwood and browsing through their books,” she said. “The people in there are so nice.”
Owner Julie Beddingfield said she was delighted to learn that Kelly had won. “I could not think of a better person to win it,” Beddingfield said. “I told her, ‘I hope you get at least one thing for yourself.’ She’s always buying stuff for her kids.”
Beddingfield is likewise thrilled to be able to provide a boost to a favorite charity called the Camden County Pop Up Library, which sets up tables of books to distribute at food banks, homeless shelters, schools, and clinics. “They move all over the area and give books to all ages,” Beddingfield said. “We will be heading out to work a pop up with them next month. They rely on donated used books primarily, so they are super excited to be able to pick books that will fit their population perfectly!”
Nancy Barnhart of Stehekin, Washington, and her husband, Mike, are longtime customers at Riverwalk Books in Chelan. Both prominent photographers in the North-Central Washington region, they have sold books and greeting cards with their images at Riverwalk. “I love to read, and I love books, and I wanted to support her, too,” Nancy Barnhart said, referring to Riverwalk owner Libby Manthey. “Having a good bookstore in the town is really valuable.”
Barnhart was initially disbelieving that her Instagram post was picked and sent an e-mail to Manthey. “I said, ‘Is this for real?’” Barnhart recalled with a laugh.
Manthey, who confirmed the news, said she was happy that one of her “original customers” from 24 years in business won the prize. “They are good customers and good friends for many, many years, so it was extra exciting,” Manthey said.
Manthey has not finalized her choice of nonprofit for her share of the prize, but plans to pick an organization that supports children’s literacy.
Salt Lake City resident Cherie Hall, a musician and mother of three, said she was moved to tweet about The King’s English Bookstore because it’s her favorite place to buy books. “I love them as a bookstore,” she said. “They are amazing, great people. I could just spend hours in there.”
Anne Holman, co-owner and manager of The King’s English, plans to donate the store’s winning books to Book Wagon, which visits public housing sites in Salt Lake County with a red Radio Flyer wagon filled with books to give away to children ages five to 13. “It’s nice to put books in kids’ hands no matter what, but when you can put a brand-new book in a kid’s hand and say, ‘This is yours to keep,’ that’s fantastic,” Holman said.
Marissa Wais was on her third visit to Source Booksellers when she posed in the store’s selfie station for the picture she shared on Twitter to win the sweepstakes. “I just moved to Detroit a month and a half ago, and I had to find my new regular bookstore,” said Wais, who said she spent many hours at Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor when she lived in that area. “I like being a regular somewhere. A lot of people feel that way at a bar or café. A bookstore is my thing.”
Wais, who works in marketing, said she’s excited about winning. “I had never won any sort of sweepstakes before,” she said.
Bookseller Alyson Turner said she had a good time setting up Source Booksellers’ selfie station with Twitter and Instagram frames that customers could use to strike a pose. “I thought it was really fun,” she said. “The hashtag was really long, and that’s why we had it printed on everything, so people would be able to look at their picture and then type it.”
She’s also pleased Source will be able to donate its winning books to the Dominican Literacy Center, which helps adults improve their reading skills. “The gift of the books will be fantastic,” Turner said.
Valerie Koehler, owner of Blue Willow Bookshop, plans to support Books Between Kids, a nonprofit that helps Houston’s at-risk children build their own home libraries. “It was started by two moms who couldn’t believe kids didn’t have books in their homes,” Koehler said. “I know that those books will be much loved in those homes.”
Koehler said she remembers Blue Willow’s winning customer, Zainab Jabak, from her visits to the store’s young adult events. Jabak, a Sugar Land resident, is a University of Houston student. “I’m so excited that one of our customers won,” Koehler said.