The very first Bookstore Romance Day celebration on Saturday, August 17, will bring together independent bookstores, readers, and writers to celebrate the romance book genre nationwide with in-store parties, author events and readings, and exclusive merchandise.
Bookseller Billie Bloebaum of Third Street Books in McMinnville, Oregon, who first proposed the event, said that Bookstore Romance Day is intended to help build and strengthen the relationship between independent bookstores and the romance community, and to break the stigma the genre has suffered in the bookselling community for many years.
“There are those of us who have been quietly reading and supporting the genre for years, and we’re being joined and supported by a new generation of booksellers who believe all reading is good reading,” said Bloebaum. “There’s still a lot of work to do, still hearts and minds to change, but progress is being made, and an event like this should, we hope, raise the visibility of romance-friendly bookstores.”
According to Bloebaum, the details for Bookstore Romance Day first came together via The Romance of Bookselling Facebook group, with organizers partially modeling the event after Independent Bookstore Day. About 70 bookstore; more than 30 authors; sponsors Romance Writers of America (RWA), Sourcebooks Casablanca, NW Book Lovers, and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA); and publisher partners Avon and HarperCollins, have signed on to participate in the initiative so far, and if all goes well, August 17 will serve as the soft launch for a yearly event.
To participate in Bookstore Romance Day, bookstores can register on the event’s website, where a list of participating bookstores are currently available on an interactive map. Participating independent booksellers can promote the inaugural event using the new Bookstore Romance Day logo graphic on the event website’s marketing assets page. The logo was designed by BrocheAroe Fabian, owner of River Dog Book Co. in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, and Broche Consulting. Promotional materials for Bookstore Romance Day will also be going out in ABA’s July Box.
“We’re also working on a process by which we will match up interested stores with interested authors for in-store events on the day,” said Bloebaum, “and we’ll be doing a series of bookstore focuses via our social media up until the week of the event itself. Our first one featured The Silver Unicorn Bookstore in Acton, Massachusetts.”
“In addition, we’re working with HarperCollins and Book Studio 16 to do a series of Facebook Live broadcasts the week of the event, with a multi-store broadcast happening on August 17,” she added. “Our friends at One More Page Books were kind enough to share their template for Romance Bookseller Trading Cards, which we’ll be adding to the website in the next couple of days. We’re also having window clings made to be sent out to participating bookstores as well.”
The Bookstore Romance Day organizing committee is comprised of a web team featuring Angela Trigg of The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama, Elissa Sweet of Bank Square Books and Savoy Bookshop & Café in Mystic, Connecticut, and Westerly, Rhode Island, and Julie Karaganis of Cabot Street Books & Cards in Beverly, Massachusetts; a communications/PR team that includes BrocheAroe Fabian of River Dog Book Co., Maryelizabeth Yturralde of Creating Conversations in Redondo Beach, California, and Paul Swydan of The Silver Unicorn Bookstore; and a social media team made up of Rachel Person of Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, New York, Emily Kelly of Third Street Books, and Tracie Harris Fain of The Book House in Mableton, Georgia.
According to Bloebaum, the event is scheduled to take place in August, during Romance Awareness Month, to avoid the oversaturation of Valentine’s Day. At this point in the preparations, Bloebaum has heard from several individual bookstores about their plans. Jody Hardy of Mostly Books in Tucson, Arizona, gave BTW a rundown of her store’s schedule for Bookstore Romance Day. Said Hardy, “We are tentatively planning for Bookstore Romance Day to have a local romance book reviewing podcast tape a live show at the store, as well as a romance-themed scavenger hunt. We’ll also have sales, giveaways, and snacks.”
Michelle Mioff-Haring of Cupboard Maker Books in Enola, Pennsylvania, said her store “will be having an all-day book signing with romance authors. Then, at the conclusion of the signings, we’re having an overnight slumber party at the bookstore, which will involve games, food, and the company of romance authors and romance lovers.”
Suzanne Droppert, owner of Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo, Washington, told BTW that she is reaching out to 10 other independent bookstores to see whether they would like to participate in a weekend Bookstore Romance crawl and has also reached out to authors for visits at both of her stores, while Angela Schwesnedl of Moon Palace Books in Minneapolis, Minnesota, said her store is working on a small, romance-specific pre-order campaign for an author they are excited about: Roni Loren, author of The One You Fight For (Sourcebooks Casablanca).
“We’ve got someone on staff and a couple customers who are fans of this author. The idea is just to remind folks that you can pre-order romance at indies,” said Schwesnedl. “We’ll also make some digital assets that other stores can use if they want.”
Booksellers can donate to the initiative’s GoFundMe campaign which is raising money for basic operating costs, including web hosting, graphic design, and postage, as well as unforeseen related expenses. Proceeds from Bookstore Romance Day merch, now available on Zazzle, will also go toward operating expenses for the event; tees, totes, and coffee mugs are on sale, and booksellers are permitted to resell them to customers.
Booksellers, authors, and publishers who are interested in participating should check out the event website for more information, and follow Bookstore Romance Day on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The hashtags for the event are #BookstoreRomanceDay, #IndiesLoveRomance, and #RomanceAwarenessMonth.
Marketing assets for participating bookstores are available here, and interested booksellers can register here to participate in the event. Booksellers are invited to contact Bloebaum at email@example.com with further questions.