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Move over, Christmas. It's Independent Bookstore Day

Story times, scavenger hunts, treats and an incredible bookish challenge

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Published on: April 27, 2017

Elliott Bay Book Company.
Elliott Bay Book Company. Photo credit: Nicola/flickr CC

Puget Sound families like to celebrate all kinds of quirky holidays, from Pi Day (March 14) to Star Wars Day (May 4). But the one most suited to our region of readers might be Independent Bookstore Day (Saturday, April 29), a relatively new holiday that is especially welcome in this relentlessly rainy spring.

In the wake of losses such as Green Lake's Mockingbird Books, it's also a chance to get to know the many beloved independent bookstores that still exist around the Sound, including Elliott Bay Book Company, Third Place Books, Island Books and many more. And independent bookstores are special for reasons other than harboring your next favorite read. They’re equal parts quirky and friendly, offering a quick escape and a chance to hear a poetry reading, introduce kids to their first live author or find camaraderie and entertainment at a story time. At their best, they are community centers where passionate readers come together to celebrate stories of all kinds.

Get the latest on Independent Bookstore Day in Seattle on FacebookInstagram; and Twitter at #SEAbookstoreday

This year marks Seattle’s third consecutive participation in Independent Bookstore Day (IBD), an event expected to be bigger than ever. On Saturday, 19 bookstores across the greater Seattle area will have parties and live music, host local authors, and offer treats and exclusive deals. It’s the perfect opportunity to explore stores in other neighborhoods. 

For families with younger children, we suggest you check in at your favorite participating bookstore and see what events they have scheduled (see below for some ideas). You can pick up a passport at any participating bookstore and be entered to win prizes by visiting three or more stores on the day.

For bookworm families with older children, consider this bookish challenge. If you visit all 19 participating bookstores (and get your IBD passport stamped at each) you’ll be eligible to receive 25 percent off at all participating stores — all year long! But make sure to plan ahead: With bookstores in Edmonds and Mercer Island, Bainbridge and Poulsbo (watch out for ferry traffic), the trek is by no means easy. Tip: For stores with multiple locations (such as University Bookstore), you only need to visit one location.  

Independent Bookstore Day started in California in 2014 and was inspired by the success of Record Store Day. In 2016, 430 stores across the country participated, with sales up an average 200 percent that day. Learn more at

Bookstores offering kid-oriented activities

  • University Bookstore (Seattle, Mill Creek): Many activities throughout the day including an story time and mask making, musical performances, balloon animal artists, free treats and bookmarks and more
  • Elliott Bay Book Co. (Capitol Hill): Theater story time, prizes and discounts
  • Secret Garden Books (Ballard): Free treats and beverages, and a "lovely and idiosyncratic photo op" 
  • Third Place Books (Seward Park, Ravenna, Lake Forest Park): Variety of events at the different stores
  • Book Tree (Kirkland): Reading circle, story time and more
  • Eagle Harbor Books (Bainbridge Island): Open at 7:30 a.m., toddler story time at 9:30 a.m., and event with authors of The Nasty Woman Project
  • Island Books (Mercer Island); Free doughnuts and coffee in the morning, performance by entertainer Nancy Stewart at 9:30 a.m.; all-day coloring table; manual typewriters and more
  • Phinney Books Seattle: Open extended hours, with quizzes, giveaways, a sewing workshop, a make-your-own-all-weather-book-sleeve workshop and more. 
  • Queen Anne Book Company (Seattle): Story time, children's treasure chest, opportunity to meet authors of The Nasty Woman project and more
  • Magnolia Bookstore (Seattle): Snacks and goodies and giveaways throughout the day 
  • The Neverending Bookshop (Bothell): Bookish trivia every hour, a scavenger hunt, henna artist Rebekah from 1-3 p.m., and other ways to win bookish swag.

More participating bookstores

Heads up: Free Comic Book Day is on May 6. 

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