The 2019 Author Ambassador for the fifth Independent Bookstore Day (IBD) will be Tayari Jones, New York Times best-selling author of the 2018 novel An American Marriage (Algonquin Books). The annual one-day national party will be celebrated this year on Saturday, April 27, at more than 575 participating independent bookstores nationwide.
“Independent bookstores combine two of my favorite things — independence and (of course) books,” said Jones. “Every indie store is as carefully curated as a museum because the owners care about getting the right stories into the hands of the people who live in that community. Indie stores are hyper-local, yet they share thoughts from all over the world.”
Upon announcing An American Marriage as the 2018 pick for Oprah’s Book Club, Oprah Winfrey wrote, “When I finished, I immediately began sharing the book with others, and they, too, devoured it, periodically checking in to talk about what might happen next. By the end, we were discussing the goings-on between Roy, Celestial, and Andre as if gossiping about next-door neighbors. It’s among Tayari’s many gifts that she can touch us soul to soul with her words— and that those words are so glorious.”
Jones has written three other novels in addition to An American Marriage, which was also longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award for Fiction: Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, and Silver Sparrow, which was added to the NEA Big Read Library of classics in 2016. She is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers and the recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, United States Artist Fellowship, NEA Fellowship, and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship. Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, University of Iowa, and Arizona State University and is currently a professor of creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
Independent Bookstore Day first began in California in 2014 and became a national event the next year. Since each indie bookstore is distinctive, each IBD party is as unique as the store throwing it; in addition to author visits, different stores have featured a variety of literary activities over the years, including live music, cupcakes, scavenger hunts, kids’ events, art tables, readings, barbecues, contests, and more. The event is produced by writer and former bookseller Samantha Schoech, who serves as program director, in partnership with the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association.
In December 2018, ABA reported a 5 percent increase in sales across the independent channel and 132 new indie bookstores in the process of opening; bolstering this trend, Bookstore Day has become second only to Christmas in terms of increasing sales at indie bookstores, said Schoech.
“In 2018, participating stores were up an average of 126 percent over a typical Saturday in April,” she added. “Sales in the indie channel for the week of IBD were up 9.54 percent over sales in the comparable week in 2017. Bookstore Day has become a legit holiday for booklovers.”
Each year, IBD makes available a selection of Bookstore Day exclusive books and literary items, which are available in limited quantities only at participating independent bookstores and only on that day. There are 20 Bookstore Day exclusives available in 2019, including a signed, special edition of Man-Eaters Vol. 1 by Chelsea Cain, Lia Miternique, and Kate Niemczyk; an exclusive On the Come Up journal with bound-in letter from The Hate U Give author Angie Thomas; an exclusive Elmo’s New Puppy Little Golden Book; and an uncensored, exclusive Charles Bukowski vinyl album. To see all of the 2019 exclusives created for IBD 2019, and for all current information about the event, visit the IBD website.
Sponsors for IBD include Penguin Random House, Ingram, Chronicle Books, and the American Booksellers Association. Readers can use #bookstoreday to follow Independent Bookstore Day on social media and keep up with the latest IBD news on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.