Monday, April 26, 2021

Masked Up and Making the Race

This last Saturday, I participated in my fourth Seattle Independent Bookstore Day celebration. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the expectations in 2021 were quite different from what they’d been previously. In 2019, for instance, the goal was to visit 21 out of 26 participating indie shops in a single day; this time, rules called for us simply to purchase at least one item in 10 different stores over a 10-day period. Nonetheless, sticking with tradition, my cohorts for this 2021 event—my delightful niece Amie-June (who has accompanied me on two previous SIBDs) and her precocious 5-year-old son, Gareth—agreed to try hitting all 10 book retailers on Saturday alone.

(Left) Amie-June, Gareth, and yours truly at Bainbridge Island’s Eagle Harbor Book Company.

We began the run at 8 a.m., traveled by both car and ferry in a circle around the city (with a couple of necessary detours to cover bookstores that closed earlier than others), and finished 10 hours later at the Elliott Bay Book Company, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Given that we had only 10 bookstores to cover, we tried to spend some quality time in each, buying items for ourselves or others. Gareth made the biggest haul, with his book-nerd mother and I both adding to his reading stock. I had brought along a short list of things I hoped to find for myself—both crime fiction and non-fiction works—but couldn’t locate most of them, and wound up with only two books: Laurence Bergreen’s In Search of a Kingdom: Francis Drake, Elizabeth I, and the Perilous Birth of the British Empire and Ride the Devil’s Herd: Wyatt Earp’s Epic Battle Against the West’s Biggest Outlaw Gang, by John Boessenecker.

In the past, people who complete the SIBD challenge have won 25-percent discounts for a year at all participating bookshops. This time, the prize is considerably less significant—a limited-edition Seattle Indie Bookstore Day 2021 tote bag—but the fun, as usual, was in making the race and getting to boast about it for the next 365 days, until we are invited to saddle up all over again.

READ MORE:Bookstore Mysteries: Independent Bookstore Day,” by Janet Rudolph (Mystery Fanfare).

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