Happy California Bookstore Day!

Saturday, May 3rd is California Bookstore Day (CBD). This is the day all of us Californians tip our hats to the indie bookstores we love, celebrating their existence as stack-laden and sometimes mildly claustrophobic utopias of browsing, where we can still quietly lose track of time as we peruse in search of the answer to that never-ending question, “Where is my next favorite book hiding?”

What would a celebration of bookstores be without some special books and book-like materials published specifically for these underdogs of the free market? One of the greatest aspects of CA Bookstore Day, aside from (duh) bookstore love, are the unique offerings created by authors and artists exclusively for participating indie bookstores. For once, this stuff won’t be cheaper on Amazon.

This year, the pickings are awesome. They include a $20 special edition of Congratulations, By the Way, an expansion of George Saunders’s convocation speech to Syracuse University. These will be signed, numbered, and doodled upon (?) by the author.

Saunders cover

A literary map of California will be available for $40, created especially for CBD.

3 Fish Studios Bookseller copy

Perhaps the most seriously awesome of the items available will be a wooden stencil with a quote taken from Don DeLillo’s White Noise, “California deserves whatever it gets.”

2-21 AG Book Stencil WOOD 2

Here is the whole quote for inquiring minds, from page 66 of DeLillo’s White Noise:

This is where California comes in. Mud slides, brush fires, coastal erosion, earthquakes, mass killings, et cetera. We can relax and enjoy these disasters because in our hearts we feel that California deserves whatever it gets. Californians invented the concept of lifestyle. This alone warrants their doom.

Although the stencil and its homage to DeLillo is seriously amazing, leave it to the mad hatters of publishing over at McSweeney’s to come up with a beautifully designed concept book so awesome it (literally) tops all other offerings. The publisher created a 2-foot-tall, free-standing, accordion-style book for CBD. In this work of art (which includes a hidden foldout illustration of California landscape), called Bookstories, McSweeney’s poets and authors (Californians, of course) “explore through short pieces the best bookstore they know of that doesn’t exist.”


I’m waiting for McSweeney’s to release an wearable book, or maybe an edible one. There’s always next year…

Visit cabookstoreday.com to get all the details, including which bookstores are participating.

And if you don’t live in California, be glad you don’t have to worry about your state falling into the ocean in an earthquake! Just kidding… Maybe your state has something similar to CA Bookstore Day? If not, maybe you are just the person to start this celebration of those little special places that sell books. Maybe this event needs to go national!

One Comment

This was an incredible event. I hope it will spread. Honestly, I think getting a copy of Neil Gaiman’s short story was the best part B-)

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