Independent Bookstore Day celebrations in NYC go beyond Manhattan

Book Culture's Long Island City branch will be among the dozens of indie shops celebrating Independent Bookstore Day on April 28, 2018.
Book Culture’s Long Island City branch will be among the dozens of indie shops celebrating Independent Bookstore Day on April 28, 2018. Photo Credit: Marvel Studios / Chuck Zlotnick

Bibliophiles are bound to love this story.

Saturday is the fourth-annual Independent Bookstore Day, and readers of all ages will have dozens of opportunities across the city to win prizes, get discounts and even kick back with a cocktail or two.

Althea Lamel, manager of the new Book Culture branch in Long Island City, which opened in December, said they’re excited to celebrate their first Independent Bookstore Day outside of Manhattan on April 28.

“We’ll have story time in the morning, refreshments in the early afternoon, and we’ll be giving away free prizes throughout the day,” she said. “We hope people will come out and celebrate with us.”

The airy retail space — housed in a former taxi garage — is among the indications that indie stores are making a resurgence in the city. (The American Booksellers Association reported that the number of independent bookstores nationwide increased by 35 percent from 2009 to 2015.)

Matt Chicorel, another Book Culture manager, compared the rebirth of indie bookstores to the popularity of record shops. “Almost like vinyl, it’s a growing trend,” he said. “People like going to the stores, getting off Amazon, browsing shelves.”

Book Culture is joining Astoria Bookshop (on 31st Street), Word Bookstore (on Franklin Avenue in Greenpoint) and the new McNally Jackson (on Fourth Street in Williamsburg) for a four-mile literary crawl on Saturday. Ambitious amblers who get a stamp at each location will be entered to win a prize pack.

Readers who would rather stay in Brooklyn can stop by more than 30 indies participating in the third annual Brooklyn Bookstore Crawl (bkbookcrawl.com). Meander through the borough and if you visit at least three stores — don’t miss Greenlight Bookstore’s literary pub quiz (at their Fort Greene location) — and post the proof to social media, you’ll be entered into a prize drawing.

Of course the grande dame of the city’s indie scene — The Strand Bookstore — is taking part in the festivities as well. They put together a scavenger hunt, with more than ten participating stores, stretching from Word Up Community Bookshop, on 165th Street, to Kew & Willow Books, in Kew Gardens.

“We wanted to organize something where independent booksellers could work together to celebrate our community’s love and excitement for books,” Leigh Altshuler, the store’s communications director, said in an email.

Customers have to post photos on social media of specific aspects of each shop for a chance to win “bookish swag.” Full details of what to do where can be found on The Strand’s website (strandbooks.com) starting April 25.

Even local businesses that don’t sell books are getting in on the action. The Crown Heights performance space Friends and Lovers will host an official after-party for the Brooklyn crawl from 5 to 7 p.m.

Dash Speaks, programming director for the venue, said they’re happy to play their part.

“Small businesses turn places that people live into neighborhoods,” he wrote in an email, “and bookstores are cultural cornerstones that help neighborhoods develop into thoughtful and compassionate communities.”