The citywide book party that is Seattle Independent Bookstore Day is coming on Saturday, April 28 — and you’re invited. Now in its fifth year, SIBD is part of a national event celebrating the role independent bookstores play in the lives of readers, authors and communities.

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Lit Life

A year ago, on a cloudy but dry Saturday, I visited 19 bookstores in a day. And I can’t wait to do it again.

The citywide book party that is Seattle Independent Bookstore Day is coming on Saturday, April 28 — and you’re invited. Now in its fifth year, SIBD is part of a national event celebrating the role independent bookstores play in the lives of readers, authors and communities.

If you’re lucky enough to have an indie bookstore in your neighborhood, you know what treasures they are: Places where you can talk about books with friendly booksellers, browse shelves (while inhaling that delightful aroma of new books; equal parts fresh paper, faint dust and hope) looking for a serendipitous find, and go home with something you can’t wait to start reading. Yes, buying books online is often cheaper, but for me — and maybe a lot of us — something precious gets lost in that transaction. SIBD celebrates that precious thing, all over town.

This year, 23 bookstores are participating: Ada’s Technical Books (Seattle), Book Larder (Seattle), BookTree (Kirkland), Brick & Mortar Books (Redmond), Eagle Harbor Book Co. (Bainbridge Island), Edmonds Bookshop (Edmonds), Elliott Bay Book Company (Seattle), Fantagraphics Bookstore (Seattle), Island Books (Mercer Island), Liberty Bay Books (Poulsbo, Bremerton), Magnolia’s Bookstore (Seattle), The Neverending Bookshop (Bothell), Open Books: A Poem Emporium (Seattle), Phinney Books (Seattle), Queen Anne Book Company (Seattle), Secret Garden Books (Seattle), Third Place Books (Lake Forest Park, two Seattle locations), The Traveler (Bainbridge Island) and University Book Store (Seattle, Mill Creek).

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Every one of these stores will be hosting its own special events, which might include author appearances, readings, giveaways, live music, cake, contests and the like; see your favorite store’s website for details on what they’re doing on the 28th. And every store is taking part in the Passport Challenge: Visit three stores on the list on that day and get your passport stamped, and you’ll get a one-time 30 percent off coupon, good for any participating store.

Or, if you’re ambitious, visit and get your passport stamped at 19 stores that day (for stores with more than one outlet — University Book Store, Third Place Books, Liberty Bay Books — you only need to visit one of each). This achievement brings the ultimate prize: a Bookstore Champions card, which gets you 25 percent off at every participating store for a year.

I proudly carry such a card (it is, may I say, the first time ever that the word “champion” and my name have been in close proximity), and have been happily whipping it out at bookstores all over town, all year — it’s a treasured possession. My friend Arlene, who was part of the trio in my car last year, recently thought she’d lost her wallet and told me that her first panicked thought was not of credit cards or identification but “what will I do if I lose my Bookstore Champions card?”

This year, with my beloved longtime book group in tow — there’s just four of us, so we’ll fit easily into my Honda — I’m looking forward to doing the 19-store marathon again. Here are some memories from last year’s Passport Challenge:

  • Taking an insanely early Saturday-morning ferry to Bainbridge, and finding it populated with cheery people carrying empty book bags and chirping “Happy Independent Bookstore Day!”
  • Appreciating the enchanting sight of a line of people, outside Bainbridge Island’s Eagle Harbor Book Co., awaiting a bookstore’s opening like fans in line for a concert.
  • Discovering so many bookstores that were new to me. Biggest surprise: the beautifully designed and welcoming space of Ada’s Technical Books (which I remembered, years ago, as the charmingly dilapidated Horizon Books). Ada’s also had one of my favorite sidewalk signs that day: “Saturday 4/29 is Independent Bookstore Day! Celebrate: Knowledge! Wonder! Reading! & Books!!!”
  • The collection of vintage typewriters at Island Books, standing ready for a bit of impromptu poetry or prose.
  • Sampling Scandinavian pastries at Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo.
  • Blowing bubbles outside Edmonds Bookshop, which handed out tiny bottles and wands. I still have a half-full bottle in my car, in case of emergency.
  • Happily wallowing in crime fiction (and enjoying cookies baked by the employees) at Seattle Mystery Bookshop, which sadly closed its doors last fall.
  • Finding a sly reference to Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” — the quote “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum” (mock Latin for “don’t let the bastards grind you down”) — written on the wall in an Elliott Bay Book Company restroom.
  • Enjoying all the different stamps used by the various bookstores for stamping the passports. (Good luck forging one of these.) My favorite: the twisty blue dragon (I think it’s a dragon) from the Neverending Bookshop.
  • Getting an excited cheer from a group of booksellers at Ravenna Third Place Books, our 19th and final stop of the day — just in time for happy hour.

We’re lucky in Seattle to have so many independent bookstores and knowledgeable booksellers. I can’t wait to celebrate them on April 28 — and maybe I’ll see you along the way? I’ll be tweeting all day, at @moiraverse. For more information on Seattle Independent Bookstore Day, see seattlebookstoreday.com.