Boston’s Best Places to Spend Independent Bookstore Day

Used books at Brattle Book Shop.
Used books at Brattle Book Shop. –Ryan Breslin /

Print may not be dead after all.

There’s now a national holiday to validate the efforts of book readers who have refused to buy a Kindle or a Nook after all these years. The American Booksellers Association is launching its first nation-wide Independent Bookstore Day on May 2.

A total of 400 bookstores across the country will observe the celebration on Saturday. Participating businesses will take part by offering limited edition books and merchandise as well as hosting various author events, readings, slam poetry contests, and giveaways, an association spokesperson told

Independent Bookstore Day was birthed by California’s successful state-wide version of the same holiday, Executive Director of the New England Independent Bookstore Association Steve Fischer said. The original event was inspired by National Record Store Day, and will feature limited edition books and gift items only available at participating stores on the holiday.


“It’s a way for people to celebrate what wonderful places independent bookstores are and to add to the experience,’’ Fischer said. “It’s hopefully the first of an annual holiday.’’

The limited edition merchandise available at participating stores includes an original Chris Ware print, a Huck Finn literary map, a hand-written version of Stephen King’s new novel Finders Keepers, limited edition Roxanne Gay “mini novels,’’ literary tea towel sets, and more.

“People lined up last year to buy the exclusive items, and hopefully they will again,’’ Fisher said. “We did ask stores to not put any of it out for sale until the day.’’ The exclusive merchandise also cannot be put on hold.

All of the following Boston-area bookstores are participating, which means they will carry all the exclusive titles, gift items, and posters.

Porter Square Books: The Cambridge store sells new books and features a small cafe, Cafe Zing, where customers can sit and enjoy coffee with their newly purchased title. The store will mark the holiday with a scavenger hunts for all ages, product demonstrations from local stores, and an appearance by cookbook author Jeremy Sewall. Participants will also be eligible for discounts from area stores and resturants when they show a Porter Square Books receipt dated May 2.


Papercuts: The tiny (500 square feet), eclectic Jamaica Plain shop opened last November and will host live music, author and illustrator appearances, open mic hour, a ‘selling bee,’ and bookstore bingo. Sign up for activities or see the full list here.

Trident Booksellers & Cafe: For a boozier Indie Bookstore Day head to Trident on Newbury Street, which offers a full restaurant menu complete with beer and wine. The store will also host games and giveaways in honor of the holiday, and has a full list of the limited edition merchandise on itswebsite.

Brookline Booksmith: The 10,000-square-foot Coolidge Corner store has sold new and used books for 54 years, and will incorporate a “selfie-taking treasure hunt’’ into its Indie Bookstore Day celebration. Their used books cellar will also be open for browsing during the event.

Harvard Bookstore: For free food head to the Harvard Square store’s event. It will include a meet and greet book signing with America’s Test Kitchen author Dan Souza, who’s bringing along complimentary shortbread cookies. The Nearest Thing to Life author James Wood will also be there to give a reading and sign copies of his book.

Wellesley Books: Wellesley Books is hosting and expertly literary-themed Bookstore Day, featuring a Dr. Suess Breakfast, Jane Austen Afternoon Tea, and an F. Scott Fitzgerald Speakeasy cocktail hour—“no password necessary’’– to bring out the Gatsby in you. The kid’s breakfast also provides mimosas for mom and dad.

Local used bookstores aren’t formally participating in the festivities since the event is sponsored by publishers. However, they’re still local independent shops worthy of a celebratory visit:


Commonwealth Books

Brattle Book Shop

Calamus Bookstore

All of the participating bookstores in New England can be found here.

Loading Comments...


Get the latest breaking news sent directly to your phone. Download our free app.