Queens, Tarot, Raffles, and So Many Books

A few ways to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day in California.

independent bookstore day 2023
Alta Journal

This Saturday is the 10th annual Independent Bookstore Day, a national daylong celebration of our favorite places: indie bookshops. Last year, Alta Journal published an exhaustive list of our favorite bookstores in California and the West, a roster that has grown considerably on its way to being compiled into a stand-alone book.

This essay was adapted from the Alta newsletter, delivered every Thursday.

Bookstores across the country are coming up with fun and innovative ways to mark the occasion and bring booklovers together on Saturday. We reached out to a few of our bookseller pals in California to see what they’ve got planned for Independent Bookstore Day. Here’s what they sent back.

Green Apple Books on the Park

1231 9th Ave. at Lincoln Way, San Francisco

“Green Apple Books on the Park will be hosting their traditional all-day festivities—book bag raffles, morning coffee and mimosas, beer provided by Barrel Head Brewhouse while supplies last—and some new programming to look forward to. We will host poet Maggie Smith for a signing of her new memoir, You Could Make This Place Beautiful, at 11:30 a.m.; tarot readings from Sorina at 2 p.m.; and a Drag Defense reading featuring writers Julián Delgado Lopera, Baruch Porras Hernandez, and more at 6 p.m. And we will close the day with a set from S.F. favorite Hectorine at 7 p.m.”

The Booksmith

1727 Haight St., San Francisco

“We’ve got a Booksmith bingo game, custom recommendations, sunny day jams, tarot readings by JesseJae, and special merch. Come by to grab a book, get a recommendation, have a drink and a snack at Alembic next door, or just drop in and say you love us.”


7812 Girard Ave., La Jolla

“On Saturday, April 29, Warwick’s will also celebrate Sant Jordi’s Day with live music, story time for kids, and raffles in honor of Independent Bookstore Day. Sant Jordi’s Day is a day of books, roses, and romance, and Warwick’s brings it to La Jolla all the way from Barcelona. As legend has it, Saint George slew a dragon to save a princess and then plucked a red rose for the princess from a rose bush that sprouted from the exact spot that the dragon’s red blood had spilled. To commemorate Sant Jordi’s Day, men and women in Barcelona take to the streets to buy and exchange books and roses for their sweetheart. More books are sold on this day in Barcelona than the entire rest of the year combined.”

Cellar Door Bookstore

5225 Canyon Crest Dr., Ste. 30A; Riverside

“Because we are moving, this Indie Bookstore Day is going to be a bit of nostalgia—we’ve had 10 years of building an awesome community here, 10 years of book clubs, community events, Drag Story Times, and all the wonder (and disappointment) that that has brought to us. We’ve invited all of our customers to come in and share their stories about this location and what it has meant to them. And our Drag Queens are doing one last Canyon Crest story time! Mostly, though, we are celebrating our new location (473 E. Alessandro Blvd., Ste. B; Riverside), excited to explore, meet our new neighbors, eat the incredible food they have there, and open our next chapter!”

Timbre Books

1924 E. Main St., Ventura

“This year, we’re pleased to host local authors Shaunna and John Stith for a story time reading of their picture book, Black Beach: A Community, an Oil Spill, and the Origin of Earth Day, at 10:30 a.m. Books are available to be signed with purchase. In the afternoon, we plan to have a DJ set from one of our booksellers, Alex. Plus, we’re giving away an exclusive print to folks visiting the shop (something we’ve done annually for IBD since we opened). Customers are encouraged to wear their Timbre Books merch the day of and to tag us on social media (@timbrebooks) using the hashtags #IndieBookstoreDay and #booksforthepeople.”

Looking for an indie bookstore near you? Check out our guide and start celebrating.•

Matt Haber has previously worked as an editor at The Village Voice, The New York Observer, and The Atlantic.
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