Local shops celebrate Independent Bookstore Day

Through a Bards Alley scavenger hunt and a handful of other events, here’s how you can show your support for indie bookstores on April 28.

© likoper // Adobe Stock

Independent Bookstore Day got its start in California in 2014 before becoming a nationally recognized holiday the next year. Since 2015, participating indie bookstores across the country have been hosting entertaining events to remind locals of their important contribution to society—despite digital competition—in some cases celebrating the day even before officially opening their doors.

Jennifer Morrow, a Vienna resident who worked in the corporate world before becoming a stay-at-home mom, decided to open her own indie bookstore, Bards Alley, in 2017. Though the shop did not open until that July, Morrow made sure that Bards Alley contributed to the April event by putting together a scavenger hunt for books around the area. The best part? Whoever found the books, kept the books—for free.

In its first year, Bards Alley hid around 60 literary works, but this year will hide more than 140 galleys (advanced reader copies of not yet published works) from publishers like HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster on April 28, some planted at the co-occurring Taste of Vienna and others tucked away within local business like Coco Vienna and Caffé Amouri. The books will have a sticker on them reading, “We are giving away these books to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day! If you found this it is yours to keep! Thanks for supporting your local businesses.”

The hunt kicks off at 9 a.m., but that’s not all that’s on the now-open venue’s agenda: authors Hena Khan, Nicole Tong and Scott Berg will be on-site to discuss their work as well. Merchandise and other giveaways will also be up for grabs.

“It’s important to foster a place where fellow book lovers can gather,” says Morrow, who also mentions that when it comes to choosing between shopping local or buying books from a big box store, “We have a knowledgeable staff who can offer recommendations and residents can keep their dollars local.”

Other local shops with their own Independent Bookstore Day events include:

Hooray for Books!
10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Alexandria native Tesa Jones will make an appearance to sign her second adult fiction novel, Reflection of Memories, while little ones work on their skills reading to Raya, an Alexandria poodle who’s also a therapy dog. // 1555 King St., Alexandria

One More Page Books
10 a.m.-8 p.m.
In addition to giveaways and exclusive merchandise, event-goers will find homemade sweet treats via a baking competition. // 2200 N. Westmoreland St., Suite 101, Arlington

Scrawl Books
10 a.m.-9 p.m.
This Independent Bookstore Day celebration is certainly kid-friendly as Maisy, the mouse starring in Maisy Goes to the Local Bookstore: A Maisy First Experiences Book by Lucy Cousins, will make a special appearance. Children’s authors Ann Marie Stephens, Megan Wagner Lloyd and Jesse Holland will host story time sessions, too. // 11911 Freedom Drive, Reston

Winchester Book Gallery
10 a.m.–10 p.m.
At this event, pop balloons to reveal special deals, participate in an open-mic poetry slam and take a stab at guessing how many buttons, bottle caps and the like fit into the estimation jars on display. Plus, Old Town Alexandria advisers will occupy an advice booth, dishing out solutions to your problems for free. // 185 N. Loudoun St., Winchester

And especially on Independent Bookstore Day, check out our complete list of the area’s independent bookstores.

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