Bookends and Beginnings joins celebration of Independent Bookstore Day


Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Bookends and Beginnings. The store, now its 5th year, will celebrate Independent Bookstore Day this Saturday.

Wilson Chapman, Reporter

Since she moved to Evanston in the ’80s, Nina Barrett (Medill M.S. ‘87) felt the city needed an independent bookstore. Following her gut, she opened her own.

Five years later, her store Bookends & Beginnings has grown to become a well-loved part of the Evanston community. This Saturday, the store will celebrate its growth by participating in the fifth annual Independent Bookstore Day, a national celebration at 580 independent bookstores across the United States.

“We’ve grown up with Independent Bookstore Day, and the program has grown incredibly over that time,” Barrett said. ”It’s a time for us to talk about what makes independent bookstores different from other forms of bookselling.”

Barrett said the event is meant to be “an all day party in your store,” and that every shop’s independent bookstore day is different, because every independent bookstore is unique.

Bookends and Beginnings will celebrate with two events this year. The first will be a morning reading of a children’s book from the “Pete the Cat” series, an event that Barrett described as “storytime on steroids,” since it will involve arts and crafts and a dance party. At night, the store will host Soo Park, the author of “Chicago Food Crawls,” for a discussion. Several Evanston restaurants featured in the book, including Edzo’s Burger Shop and NaKorn, will cater the event.

Larry Law, the executive director of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association, said Bookends and Beginnings will be one of over two dozen stores in the Chicagoland area to participate in the #MyChicagoBookstore Challenge this year. At any point during Independent Bookstore Day, customers who make a $25 purchase at one of the participating stores will receive a “passport,” which store goers will get stamped at each participating shop. If the customer visits enough bookshops, they receive a yearlong discount.

Law said this challenge is representative of the strong sense of community and partnership between independent bookstore owners. He said that it’s rare to find an industry where different businesses actively supports each other’s work in the way that this promotion does, and it shows how supportive Chicago independent bookstore owners are of each other.

“One of the things that draws people to being booksellers is they’re storytellers,” Law said. “They like physically being around people and being part of a community. There’s really no sense of competition with our stores in Chicago. We’ve come to realize that when one of is strong, it makes all of us strong.”

Brooke Williams had been working as a bookseller for six years when she was hired at Bookends and Beginnings three months ago. Williams said she was a fan of the store because of its welcoming environment, its strong book selection and its presence within the Evanston community.

Williams said independent bookstores are important to celebrate because they act as important gathering sites for people in cities to hold events and develop a sense of community.

“Independent bookstores are not just bookstores,” Williams said. “They’re community spaces. We offer a personalized touch … It’s really just about the community that is created within a local bookstore that you don’t get at a big box store.”

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