Marketing Meetup Recap: Love Your Bookstore Marketing Campaigns

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On Thursday, September 19, the American Booksellers Association presented a Marketing Meetup focusing on the Love Your Bookstore challenge, which takes place November 8–17.

Guest speakers for the meetup included Michael Leali of Sourcebooks (and formerly of Anderson’s Bookshops); Kelly Justice of Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia; and Kathleen March of Anderson’s Bookshops in Naperville, Illinois.

Launched last year, the Love Your Bookstore challenge, said Leali, was created by Sourcebooks Publisher and CEO Dominique Raccah, who wanted to promote brick-and-mortar bookstores. To participate in the challenge, readers must visit their local bookstore, take a picture, and post it to social media with the hashtag #loveyourbookstore (to track reach and keep things uniform, all participants are asked to use the same hashtag). Then, participants must challenge three to five of their friends on social media to join in by tagging them.

Last year, there was tremendous participation, Leali said, with more than 2,000 posts on Instagram and over 2,500 Twitter posts that reached about 14 million people. Readers, authors, booksellers, and publishers posted using the hashtag in addition to sharing hashtagged posts, which helped to increase visibility.

New this year, the Love Your Bookstore campaign website has been updated with resources for booksellers that can be used online and in-store. Stores that would like printed materials and buttons mailed to them can contact the Love Your Bookstore campaign.

Also listed on the website are literary-themed prizes sponsored by Sourcebooks,, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, and other stores and organizations, which participants are eligible to win upon completing the challenge.

Justice shared that last year, Fountain Bookstore took part in the event by creating scheduled and spontaneous social media posts and by offering galley giveaways and contests. For this year’s event, Fountain plans to have a sign with the #loveyourbookstore hashtag for customers to pose with in pictures. “I think that will be really cute,” she said, noting that she’d also like to have props like in a photo booth. “We’ve had a lot of success with photo booths where you have silly glasses and things like that. People love to take pictures with costumes.”

Additionally, Justice said that she intends to use a marketing service, Matchbook Marketing, to make customized promotional materials like bookmarks for her store; while she uses some of the materials and copy provided by Love Your Bookstore, she is also sure to personalize everything to her store specifically.

Justice added that the Love Your Bookstore challenge is important to her store because by the time Small Business Saturday has come around in late November, many of her customers are done shopping. Having an earlier event such as this helps her to promote the store to its community and customers during the holiday shopping season.

It’s also a multi-day event, she said, so while customers might not be able to make it out on the day of Small Business Saturday, the weeklong Love Your Bookstore challenge offers more time to stop by the store.

For Anderson’s, March said, participating in the Love Your Bookstore challenge is a no-brainer. “It’s free. It doesn’t cost us much of anything at all, and it gets us out there,” she said. “Anytime we can ride the coattails of any fun advertising stream, we’re all about it.”

Last year, all three Anderson’s locations created a spot in the store where customers could take pictures for social media, she said, and the store also posted Love Your Bookstore signage in these locations and throughout the store to promote the challenge. Some of this signage stays up year-round to remind customers that every day should be Love Your Bookstore day, she added.

March noted that Anderson’s also gave away galleys with shelf-talker forms to those they noticed participating in the challenge in-store; participants were then encouraged to fill out the shelf-talker after reading the galley so it could be displayed when the book went on sale, which encouraged customers to come back to the store after the event ended.

“For us, it’s really fun. The staff would grab their favorite customers or their friends that come and shop and we would go to the Instagram spot and say, let’s take a selfie together for Love Your Bookstore day,” said March. “We made it a fun party environment.”

Booksellers who would like more information can contact Love Your Bookstore here.

A recording of this Marketing Meetup can be found on the American Booksellers Association’s Education Resources page. Booksellers must be logged in to to view the recording of the session.

The American Booksellers Association now offers two opportunities for live online education: a twice-monthly Marketing Meetup and a monthly Technology Meetup. All member booksellers are invited to participate in these online discussions; subscribe to the mailing list here to receive invitations for the Technology Meetups, Marketing Meetups, or both.