Steve Iwanski, owner of Charter Books in Newport

Bookworms, your time has come.

Saturday, April 30th is Independent Bookstore Day, a day to celebrate and shop at your local independently owned bookstore. IBD is a one-day national party that takes place at indie bookstores across the country every year.

Bookstores large and small around the region have special events planned for Saturday. We spoke to a couple of area booksellers to learn more.

For Charter Books owner Steve Iwanski, the day is extra special. “For us, Independent Bookstore Day will also be our 1-year anniversary,” Iwanski said. “We kicked around a few spectacular, zany ideas for Saturday, but ultimately decided to make it all about what we do best: selling good books to great customers and visitors to Newport.”

“We’ll be kicking off new regular children’s storytime with author/illustrator Bob Staake at 4pm on Friday, April 29 and there will be two more storytimes at 11 and 12 on Saturday,” he added.

Opening last year in the middle of the pandemic was certainly a challenge, but Iwanski reports business is thriving.

“Our first year could hardly have gone better,” he shared. “We blew past all expectations for sales and some of our best customers live right here in the neighborhood. Now that the word is out and we have a slate of author events for spring and summer, we’re looking forward to welcoming new faces to the store in the years to come.”

There’s a similar vibe at Island Books in Middletown. Owner Laurie Sutherland has some unique programming going on Saturday.

“We will be offering ‘Blind Date With A Book,’” she explained. “We take our advance readers copies (ARCs) of books that have been published, copy the first page of the book and attach it to a wrapped copy of the book. You get to choose a free book based on the first page only!”

“We will also be holding hourly drawings for gift cards, free books, and other gifts. We will also start up our donation cart again – free books for a small donation to a local charity,” she added.

Sutherland, who bought the bookstore in June 2021, was pleased that a book-loving community supported the business during the pandemic.

“We have very loyal customers who come back to us over and over and I am so grateful for their continued business. I think the pandemic actually helped us because it shined a light on the struggles of small business ownership. We have people that order books from all over the country because they have a connection to Rhode Island,” she said.

Be sure to stop by your favorite bookstore or two on Saturday, or any day for that matter!

For more on Charter Books, click here.

For more on Island Books, click here.

Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music, the arts and more for What'sUpNewp. He is also a contributor to Providence Monthly, SO RI, Hey Rhody and The Bay magazines.
Ken DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse," a roots/folk/rock radio show every Tuesday, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM. He is a former educator in the Scituate, RI school system where he taught Social Studies for over 30 years.
Ken is presently on the board of the Rhode Island Folk Festival and Newport Live (formerly Common Fence Music), a non-profit that brings diverse musical acts to the Newport area.