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Independent Bookstore Day Staff Pick

When: Sat., April 28, 10 a.m. 2018
Price: free admission

Independent Bookstore Day started four years ago as a response to the success of Independent Record Day. Shop owners saw how limited-edition merchandise could draw record collectors in record numbers. They realized that with a little help from the publishing industry, they also had the opportunity to attract hardcore readers.

This year, festivities at Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue; www.left-bank.com) start at 10 a.m. Premiums range from a plush version of Maisy mouse wearing the Read With Me T-shirt to a Literary Map of the Universe, which features a mix of classic and obscure science-fiction novels. The freebie is Kevin Cannon's Midwest Indie Bookstore Roadmap, highlighting 150 bookstores from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to to Missouri (there's a pop-out illustration of St. Louis' great options.)

But Independent Bookstore Day is more than merchandise: It's a celebration of bibliophiles, both the customers and the people behind the registers. Left Bank always invites artists, authors and friends of the store to come out and join the fun. This year Dancakes will be on site from 10 a.m. to noon whipping up custom, literary-themed pancakes and at 2 p.m. The Magnificoes! perform a dramatic reading of William Shakespeare's The Force Doth Awaken: Star Wars Part the Seventh.

Left Bank is not the only indie store in town, however. The Novel Neighbor (7905 Big Bend Boulevard, Webster Groves) has literary cocktails, a band called the Wargs with a Game of Thrones and Harry Potter theme, and guest authors, as well as a selection of special merchandise. Maplewood's The Book House (7352 Manchester Road) will also have guest authors signing books, giveaways and storytellers.

All of this is a tribute to St. Louis' group embrace of the neighborhood bookstore, which was rumored to be on its deathbed years ago. And yet here we are more than 20 years later, still celebrating local bookshops and the people who run them.

— Paul Friswold

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