Get excited for Independent Bookstore Day with Page 2 Books and the Neverending Bookshop

The last Saturday in this month, April 28th, is Independent Bookstore Day - a celebration of books and the small businesses that celebrate literary culture year round. We'll have a lot to say about Independent Bookstore Day over the course of the month, but we thought we'd begin the conversation by talking with two owners of smaller local bookstores - Jenny Cole of Burien's Page 2 Books, and Annie Carl of Bothell's Neverending Bookshop - about their plans for the day, what they've been reading, and why independent bookselling is so important to them.

Jenny Cole, Page 2 Books

Do you have anything special planned for Independent Bookstore Day?

We do. We always like to have authors come in the store, so that day we have three different authors.

We've got Sean Anderson, who wrote The Year of Oceans. He's at 11:00. Stella Cameron will be here with her new book, Whisper the Dead, and Ambrose Stolliker with his book, Old Hollow.

And are those reading, or signings, or are they both?

They're signings, and they'll be working here in the store. Generally what we do - it's my favorite way to authors in - we just have a table set up with their books and information about them, and then they wander around and talk to customers about what they're reading, and about their books. It's just very relaxed, informal.

We will also have lots of giveaways that day. We've got a couple of tables set up with [advance reader copies], as well as book bags, books that we're giving away, some merchandise. So everybody that comes in and shops here will get a little something to take home with them.

What's a book you've read recently that you've loved?

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater is one that I absolutely love. It's a true story - young adult. Our book club read it, and I think everybody in the book club really enjoyed it. It's kind of a shocking book in what it deals with, but it's so well written. It's been winning lots of awards.

Why do independent bookstores matter to you?

I think it's very important. We had somebody place an order the other day - she lives in Illinois, and called our store because she was getting a book for her granddaughter who lives here.

And she sent a note shortly after placing the order saying, "these are the reasons why I love shopping independent." She called in the order, she got the book that she wanted, we wrapped it for her, we talked to her about the purchase. It was more than pressing a button on a computer or calling a big warehouse where maybe the person that answers the phone doesn't read or doesn't know about the books.

I just think the experience that people have is so different in an independent book store - as it is for any small business. I love to frequent small businesses because you get the personal experience.

Annie Carl, The Neverending Bookshop

Do you have anything special planned for Independent Bookstore Day?

Since the shop is so small, doing like really big activities is not much of an option, so instead I've got authors lined up pretty much all day; Laurie Thompson, who's a children's book author, will be there from ten to noon; and then Paul Boulet who self-published his book The Serial Murders of Mars, will be there noon to two. Jeff J. Peters - who wrote Cathadeus, which is a fantasy novel - he'll be there two to four; and then my friend Rachel who is a self-published author also is going to be there four to six. She'll basically help us close up the day.

And then in addition to that, we're going to be stamping passports, ringing books, and we're going to have book trivia again this year. That's the one activity we had last year, and it went really, really well. We have prizes - posters, advance reader's copies, other bookish swag for Indie Bookstore Day.

What's a book you've read recently that you've loved?

I'm currently in the middle of In The Country by Mia Alvar. It's short stories about the Philippines. But before that I read a book called Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession, and it's thirteen essays about what being fat means around the world. Twelve anthropologists and one fat activist - as she proclaims herself to be - wrote essays for the book, and it's stunning. It totally put my body image issues, and our current cultural body image issues, in perspective. And it's kind of outside of what I usually read; I usually read science fiction, fantasy, and lots of young adult and children's books. So this was kind of something new for me and I really, really enjoyed it.

Why do independent bookstores matter to you?

I've always been an independent bookseller. I started working as a bookseller when I was fifteen and I just - boy, it's such a loaded question and it's such an easy question and such a hard question all kind of wrapped into one.

Indie Bookstore Day for me is just a major celebration of bookstores and all of the marvelous things that we stand for -promoting free thought, promoting new ideas, promoting banned books, fighting censorship, promoting all of these different authors who maybe wouldn't have a platform if we weren't available to give them that platform.

Indie bookstores are still well-known for promoting our local community. I'm the only bookstore in a two- or three-mile radius, and so I have a solid customer base of people that can walk to my shop. They're families that walk down to the bookstore, and to the cafe to get some coffee, and that's what community bookstores are.

Those dollars that come into the shop go directly towards feeding my family and my child, and they also go toward the education process that we do at the store. We help people talk about why books are important to them - even if it's a science fiction novel or a fantasy novel, or a romance novel, it brings new ideas to them. It's more important to have a free-thinking society now more than ever, and I think indie book stores help keep our nation and our world free-thinking.

For me, being an indie bookseller and running an indie bookstore is really important to make sure that everyone has a chance to present their thoughts and ideas. Whether it's self-published or traditionally published, or whether you're coming into a bookstore and picking up a book you didn't think you were gonna read before - that's what I exist for.