Independent Bookstore Day — traditionally the last Saturday of April — also marks the beginning of the season for Babycake's Book Stack, the Twin Cities' roving bookmobile store for children.
This year on Indie Bookstore Day (April 24), Babycake's will be parked at Moon Palace, 3032 S. Minnehaha Av., Mpls., between 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. They'll have special merchandise, author readings and book signings, live music, giveaways and guest appearances, all under a big outdoor tent.
Yes, wear a mask and, yes, definitely practice social distancing, but also hope for good weather because Babycake's isn't the only bookstore planning outdoor events this year.
Red Balloon, SubText, Birchbark and Wild Rumpus are among other local indies planning to celebrate in the out-of-doors.
How do you acknowledge Independent Bookstore Day when we're still essentially in lockdown? Last year, at the beginning of the COVID-19 upheaval, Indie Bookstore Day was moved to August, with the hope that things would be normal by then.
Well, they weren't. So the August Indie Bookstore Day was a low-key affair, with hopes for spring. And now it is spring, and while we are getting vaccinated as fast as we can, a lot of bookstores still have limited hours, limited customers, or are closed entirely.
But Indie Bookstore Day prevails! (Masks required.)
This year, as in years past, you can pick up a passport at any participating bookstore (see the list at the Rain Taxi webpage, bit.ly/3d1NNaX). Get it stamped at each store you visit to activate special offers and coupons.
If you collect 10 stamps, you can request a special stamp that activates offers at all participating stores, including online-only stores such as Black Garnet (which is offering 21% off orders with code IBD21).
Because of the circumstances of COVID — some stores aren't open for browsing, some have limited capacity and hours — the passport stamping will go on all week, between April 18 and April 24.
Here are some of the events planned for Indie Day. Check the website of your favorite bookstore to see what else is planned.
Birchbark Books and Native Arts, 2115 W. 21st St., Mpls.: Outdoor market from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 24 and 25 (weather-permitting). Books, jewelry, wild rice, birchbark art and much more.
Cream and Amber, 1605 Mainstreet, Hopkins: Open for browsing and takeout food and coffee, featuring a book-inspired menu; sales on all staff picks.
Moon Palace Books: Indie Day will mark the first of self-guided storytime strolls the store will host on subsequent Saturdays at the Midtown Farmers Market. But on Indie Day the stroll will be in the bookstore's courtyard between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., and will feature a new comic book by Stephanie Watson.
Red Balloon, 891 Grand Av., St. Paul: Join them between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on April 24 for some "festive silliness" on the patio, including the Red Balloon Prize Wheel.
The Storied Owl: Temporarily closed for browsing, but visit the StoriedOwlBooks.com website for flash sales and special Indie Bookstore Day offers.
SubText, 6 W. 5th St., St. Paul: Used-book sidewalk sale outside, plus regular in-store browsing.
Winding Trail, 2230 Carter Av., St. Paul: All customers, all week, can enter a drawing for a free tote bag and $15 off coupon.
Don't see your neighborhood store here?
Check the websites of the 50 or so other indie bookstores statewide to see how they are celebrating. And as always, rain or shine, it's a good day to order from them online.
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune's senior editor for books. @StribBooks