From the blog surpriseslikespringrain.com April 20, 2019
If you’ve been following along with my Instagram adventures or this blog for a while, then you know that last year I completed the 2018 Seattle Independent Bookstore Day Challenge! *crowd goes wild* For those of you who are new here, let me explain:
Every year, on the last Saturday of April, it is Independent Bookstore Day nationwide, and in Seattle we booknerds go all out. Starting in 2015, Seattle’s indie bookstores collaborated to create a “daylong celebration of the work [they] do and the readers and customers who make it possible. [They] offered many of the same events and exclusive items as [their] colleagues across the country, but [they] also introduced the Passport Challenge, encouraging readers to get their passports stamped at as many participating stores as possible on Bookstore Day. Those who get their passports stamped at every participating store that day are crowned Grand Champions, with a crown, a party, and best of all, a 25% discount at all participating stores for the following year.” (Source: Seattle Independent Bookstore Day website)
In order to complete the challenge , you have to visit all participating bookstores in one day and get your passport stamped. Last year you had visit 19 of the 23 locations, and this year you have to visit 21 bookstores, as two new stores have joined the event! Please note that, despite only having to visit 21 individual bookstores, there are 26 physical bookstore location options, as some participating indie bookstores have multiple locations (such as Third Place Books and the UW Bookstore). Don’t worry, you only have to visit 21 stores, not all 26 options! This includes bookstores outside of Seattle, including some as far West as Poulsbo (think ferry rides), as far North as Edmonds, and as far East as Kirkland. The driving time alone is estimated by Google Maps to be 6 1/2 hours. Despite the hefty driving distance and the threat of Saturday Seattle traffic, the number of Grand Champions has grown rapidly from 42 in 2015 to 500 Grand Champions last year! (GO US!)
While I wouldn’t call the challenge difficult, per say, it does require some forethought and planning, and when Fred and I decided to participate last year, we immediately set our librarian skills to use searching for recommendations, tips, and suggestions from previous participants. While we found a few articles and blogposts (see list below), overall we noticed that there was a distinct lack of advice on how to tackle the Challenge, which led me to writing this post! This post is an updated version of last year’s guide (which can be found here) and will focus on the resources and four planning tips that we used to prepare for a successful book adventure. I hope it will inspire and guide you on your quest to become a 2019 Seattle Independent Bookstore Challenge Grand Champion!
Tip 1: Find a Booknerd buddy to do the Challenge with you
Two Booknerds are Better Than One
There is an estimated 6 1/2 hours of driving alone (not including stops) for this challenge, and with parking being a hassle in Seattle, it’s easiest if you have an adventure buddy who can act as a copilot/directions expert, split the driving with you, AND can swap driving in circles around the block for those parking-light bookstores in Seattle. Plus, it’s just more fun to share an adventure with a friend, and it’s easier to stay motivated when you have someone laughing with you along the way!
Tip 2: Do your research!
You have to know what to expect in order to make a good plan
As I mentioned above, Fred and I, being librarians to our cores, did some research before attempting our adventure, and found five useful resources for planning our adventure. We found:
1) This just recently released 2019 article from The Seattle Times that outlines what the day is all about with a few tips for success from a the author (who is a seasoned participant). This article is a bit of a hybrid of articles 2 & 3.
2) A general overview of the fun in The Seattle Times from 2018, which gave us a since of the atmosphere of the event, as it covered the author’s favorite memories from the previous year’s challenge.
3) This more detailed write up from 2017 published in The Seattle Times titled “How I’m going to speed through 19 bookstores on Independent Bookstore Day.” Written by the same author (Moira Macdonald) as resource 1 and 3, this article gave a more in depth look at how one should plan their route.
4) This wonderful blogpost by Catherine Bull titled “Seattle Independent Bookstore Day Adventures: The Sequel,” which was, tbh, the most useful resource for us, as it is the most detailed and recent breakdown of how to successfully complete the Challenge that we found. You can read it here:
Catherine also has a 2018 post and a 2019 post (though note, she isn’t planning on doing the full loop in 2019).
5) Last, but not least, one of the most important planning resources you can have is the Seattle Independent Bookstore Website, where you will find a list of participating stores, their addresses, and the hours of operations for each store. It is crucial to consult the official website when planning, especially in regards to store hours, because many of the stores had special hours for Bookstore Day, which was not reflected on Google Maps. You can also ask questions and get tips from fellow booknerds on their FB page here.
Read the rest of Mia’s great tips at her blog…