California Bookstore Day (CBD) - Celebrating Independent Booksellers

Book Store Display
Get Your Book Noticed. Chris Payle / Getty Images

California Bookstore Day (CBD) is a festive day-long celebration of independent bookstores that began in 2014. A collaboration between the Northern and Southern California Independent Booksellers Associations, which together represent more than 300 bookstores, the event features author appearances, literary parties, and limited-edition retail offerings. CBD inspired a nationwide Bookstore Day, beginning in 2015.

California Bookstore Day Overview

Pete Mulvihill, co-owner of Green Apple Books in San Francisco, spearheaded the launch of California Bookstore Day after noting the success of Record Store Day.

Citing that independent bookstores are "Community centers and local anchors run by passionate readers. They are entire universes of ideas that contain the possibility of real serendipity. They are lively performance spaces, not just stores, and quiet places where aimless perusal is a day well spent, they are solutions," the day is designed to help remind the reading and retail public that the stores "hold the key to your love life, your career, and your passions."

Each participating bookstore hosts its own California Bookstore Day event "to celebrate the vitality and diversity of independent bookselling across the state." Events and promotions vary per store but include readings, signings, giveaways, and parties.

Zack Ruskin, marketing coordinator for Book Passage (which has stores in Corte Madera and San Francisco), summed up the intended mood of the event by saying, “California Bookstore Day is like getting an extra holiday on the calendar, but with less eggnog and more Neil Gaiman.”

Authors Participate in California Bookstore Day

Supporting the establishments that sell their wares, authors wholeheartedly support the CBD efforts.

Featured authors for the inaugural CBD: Dave Eggers, Lisa Brown, Isabel Allende, Michael Pollan, and Wendy McNaughton.

Michael Pollan, (Cooked, Food Rules, In Defense of Food, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, The Botany of Desire) noted, "Like many authors whose work isn't easily slotted into a tried and true commercial category, I feel a large debt of gratitude to the independent booksellers of California—people who actually read the first, quirky books of a new writer and then convince their customers to give those books a try.”

Exclusive, Limited-Editions

In addition to making personal appearances at participating bookstores, many authors and their publishers produce exclusive, limited edition books, posters and other word-based items for the CBD event.

Examples of the unique offerings for the 2014 CBD: exclusively designed book-length story based on Sleeping Beauty by Neil Gaiman; the “Classic California” boxed set of novels by Charles Bukowski, John Fante, Armistead Maupin, and Elmore Leonard; and Do You Smell Carrots?, an anthology of jokes for kids featuring more than 50 favorite children’s authors including Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Jon Scieszka (The Stinky Cheese Man), and Lynne Reid Banks (The Indian in the Cupboard series).

California Bookstore Day Offline... and Online

According to the CBD organization, "In a world of tweets and algorithms and pageless digital downloads, bookstores are not a dying anachronism. They are living, breathing organisms that continue to grow and expand." That said, tweets and algorithms and other social media help today's independent booksellers grow: one can follow CBD on Facebook at (facebook.com/BookstoreDay), Twitter (twitter.com/bookstoreday), and Instagram (instagram.com/cabookstoreday). 

CBD Begets Independent Bookstore Day

As was the hope of many indie booksellers, in 2015 Bookstore Day was adopted nationwide.

Visit the official Bookstore Day site here.

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