The country saw its 4th Annual Independent Bookstore Day last Saturday, April 29. At the same time, Chicago saw its first Bookstore Challenge. The challenge, created in part with the Chicago Bookstore Alliance, asks book-lovers to attend 10 different participating independent bookstores, spend $25 at the first, and receive 10% off at each participating store for the next year.
In a time when the first brick-and-mortar Amazon bookstore has come to Chicago (on Southport Avenue), local bookstores have banded together more than ever, turning their competition into a common thread. In this gallery, bookstore-goers at Unabridged and Women & Children First enjoy the day reading with each other.
Kelli Taylor, a resident of Lake View, sits on the floor at Unabridged Bookstore near the corner of Belmont Avenue and Broadway. She had planned on driving around to 10 independent bookstores throughout the day in order to earn her 10% discount for the year, but found herself sitting and reading for an hour during her first bookstore visit of the day. Photo: Megan Stringer
Heather Hall sits and reads with child Mars at Women & Children First bookstore in Andersonville. Hall lives in Hyde Park with her other children, but ended up in the large and unique children’s section of Women & Children First for Independent Bookstore Day. Photo: Megan Stringer
Independent bookstores are celebrated for their unique and cozy interiors. Handwritten notes like this one from the staff at Women & Children First help personalize the shop, helping readers to see which books are recommended and why. Certain aspects of shopping independently provide book-lovers with an intimate experience they might not find in corporate bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon, according to supporters of Independent Bookstore Day. Photo: Megan Stringer
Shannon McCarthy (left) and Heidi Baruch (right) peruse the fiction section in Women & Children First, telling each other stories about what they’ve already read and what they look forward to reading. The two friends live around Andersonville and have been in a book club together for at least a decade. Photo: Megan Stringer
A woman reads a local book, The South Side by Natalie Y. Moore, at Women & Children First. A nearby table was filled to the brim with coffee, breads and spreads, and cookies from local cafes The Coffee Studio and Sauce and Bread Kitchen. Chairs were provided so customers could stop and snack while sitting with a book. Photo: Megan Stringer