Going Back to the Real World!

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Who doesn't like free? IndieBound is launching the first annual celebration of e-Free Day on Saturday, April 17. A unique promotional idea for bookstores, e-Free Day encourages customers to take a vacation from e-mails, status updates, tweets, chirps, and pings. The new marketing campaign casts indie bookstores as the ideal antidote to consumers' digital overload. To help promote e-Free day, IndieBound has created an array of materials in the Bookseller DIY, including "Eat. Sleep. Read. … that's it!" bag stuffers, bookmarks, fliers, and invitations.

The IndieBound materials include a long list of suggestions for e-Free in-store events, including knitting circles, quilting bees, origami classes, wine and beer tastings, and scrapbooking or letter-writing tables.

Richard Howorth and staff plan on celebrating e-Free Day at Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi. Howorth told BTW: "We're excited about E-Free Day because it will give us a chance to talk with our customers about books and reading in a way that, ideally, is more meaningful than the ordinary ways we do that, which means forging stronger connections with customers. At the very least it will be nice to have license to ignore email for a day!"

Tom Campbell of The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, North Carolina, made his case for an e-Free Day with some questions:

"Would you rather:

a) catch up on your email; or b) share some coffee and conversation with a friend?

a) tweet about your new Blackberry; or b) go to a meeting of your book club?

a) look for apps for your iPhone; or b) look for wildflowers on a spring hike?"

Campbell expanded on going e-Free in a recent Regulator newsletter. "More and more, it seems, the (digital) world is too much with us," he said. "The Internet. Blackberrys. iPhones. iPods. Cell phones. E-mail. Texting. Twitter. Facebook. Television. DVDs. DVRs. apps abounding everywhere. A list that could go on and on. Some days it seems like this stuff has completely taken over our lives. But, for now at least, each of these digital toys still comes with an 'off' button. Think about what life would be like if we turned all of them off for an hour a day, for a few hours a day, maybe even for a whole day once a week."

Campbell invited Regulator customers to "imagine some of the things you could do if you tuned out all life's digital distractions," and suggested a list of alternatives, including reading, of course, attending a live local theater performance, starting a book group, or taking a walk.

"Remember the real world? Go e-free for a day!" Campbell said. "You can't smell the roses if you're looking at them on a screen." --Karen Schechner

Booksellers with questions about e-Free Day, and any to the materials in the Booksellers DIY – and those who use the promotion in their store -- are encouraged to contact Paige Poe, ABA marketing manager. Booksellers can tweet about e-Free Day on April 18 at #eFree!