Indies First Sweepstakes Brings Out the Bookstore Love

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Instagram and Twitter users are showing the love for their favorite indie bookstores for a chance to win $1,000 worth of books as part of a special giveaway in celebration of Indies First on Small Business Saturday, this year November 25.

In the days since the contest began on November 15, Twitter and Instagram have come alive with posts from booklovers, authors, and booksellers excited to spread word about the American Booksellers Association’s new #shopindiesfirstsweepstakes.

Twitter and Instagram users have until November 26 to tag a U.S. independent bookstore using the hashtag #shopindiesfirstsweepstakes to be entered to win $1,000 worth of books from Penguin Random House.

Linda Edelman posted on Instagram about her love of books and her favorite indie bookstore to enter the sweepstakes.
Linda Edelman posted on Instagram about her love of books and her favorite indie bookstore to enter the sweepstakes.

Linda Edelman, a professor of nursing at the University of Utah, wrote in her post on Instagram: “Books were my window to the world as a child. Now they are my refuge and solace when the world outside gets too chaotic. They go everywhere with me and are the first thing I pack for a business trip or vacation. I hoard them in hope of time to read again. @kingsenglishbookshop has been my favorite book shop for 27 years now, so familiar that I know which shelf and row where my favorite authors live. #shopindiesfirstsweepstakes #indiesfirst #801life.”

Anne Holman, manager of The King’s English in Salt Lake City, Utah, told Bookselling This Week she was touched and surprised to learn about Edelman’s post.

“It makes me want to cry,” Holman said. “This is Thanksgiving, and it gives me a feeling of gratefulness when our customers appreciate us.”

Edelman said when she learned about the sweepstakes, she thought $1,000 of books would be “a dream.” She also wanted to express her feelings about The King’s English.

“It’s always busy, and the people who have worked there, like Anne, have been there as long as I can remember, so it’s always like visiting friends,” Edelman said. “And I always know when they recommend a book that it will be good.”

Casey Leidig, a 21-year-old booklover from San Francisco, tagged two city bookstores, Books Inc. and Book Passage, in a sprawling Instagram post that also paid homage to author Marissa Meyer.

Cinder was the first book I reviewed as a teen book club member at @bookpassage, an experience which made me all the more avid a reader and put me on the path I’m on today,” Leidig wrote.

Amanda Conran, Book Passage’s children’s book specialist, said Leidig has outgrown the teen book club, but stays in touch, even helping out at an event for the recent release of John Green’s Turtles All The Way Down (Dutton Books for Young Readers).

Conran said it “warmed her heart” to learn about Leidig’s Instagram post. “Casey is super, and this is the career she wants to follow, something in books, either bookselling or publishing or editing,” Conran said. “It’s great to think it started off at Book Passage.”

Authors are also posting encouragement to their readers to enter the sweepstakes and calling out their own favorite indie bookstores. Jason Reynolds, who is this year’s Indies First spokesperson, has been active on Twitter and Instagram in his support for Indies First and the #shopindiesfirstsweepstakes.

Reynolds, whose new novel Long Way Down (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books) is on the Indie Bestseller and New York Times bestseller lists, will be on hand at East City Bookshop and Politics and Prose’s location at The Wharf in Washington, D.C., and One More Page Books in Arlington, Virginia, on November 25 to celebrate Indies First.

Bookstores are also finding creative ways to inspire customers to enter the giveaway.

The selfie station at Schuler Books & Music helps customers easily enter the sweepstakes.
The selfie station at Schuler Books & Music helps customers easily enter the sweepstakes.

Emily Stavrou Schaefer, promotions coordinator for Schuler Books & Music in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said she’s set up a selfie station in the bookstore to encourage customers to enter the sweepstakes.

“The sweepstakes is a wonderful opportunity to get free books and also support the local bookstore,” she said. “We’re going to keep the selfie station up through the holiday season.”

Booksellers can find social media images to promote the #shopindiesfirstsweepstakes in the Indies First DIY on BookWeb.

They can also search on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #shopindiesfirstsweepstakes to see what their fellow booksellers are doing to promote the giveaway.

Twitter and Instagram users can tag 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. Bookstores do not need to have their own Twitter or Instagram identity to be tagged.

A random drawing will be held in mid-December to select 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.

A total of $10,000 worth of books will awarded. All prizes are courtesy of Penguin Random House. See the complete sweepstakes rules here.