A puzzle for bookstores

Herald Intern

Two neighborhood bookstores, 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th St., and the Seminary Co-op Bookstore, 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave., will participate in Chicago’s first Independent Bookstore Day, Saturday, July 12.

Independent Bookstore Day encourages readers to shop locally and to explore stores around Chicago. Nine stores across the city will celebrate the event, including The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square, City Lit Books in Logan Square, Open Books in River North, Powell’s Bookstore in University Village, Sandmeyer’s in Printer’s Row, Unabridged Bookstore in Lakeview and Women & Children First in Andersonville.

“Each store is kind of doing its own thing, in the spirit of our independent nature,” said Stefan Moorehead, manager and buyer at Unabridged Bookstore. “There are nine of us, but we all do things a little differently. We want people to celebrate that and to revel in our uniqueness across the board.”

Moorehead brought the idea for Independent Bookstore Day to Chicago after attending a national independent booksellers trade show, Winter Institute, hosted by the American Booksellers Association. Moorehead said other booksellers, spanning California to New York, spoke about ways they raise awareness for stores in their regions.

In honor of the event, 57th Street Books Manager Tom Flynn suggested each store give out puzzle pieces that, when together, create a collectible print. Moorehead reached out to Chicago-based artist Lilli Carré, who designed a print for the puzzle.

“Being the only store on the South Side, I wanted to make sure that folks who don’t normally shop with us had a reason to seek us out,” Flynn said in an e-mail. “A puzzle seemed the perfect solution as folks would have to come to the stores in Hyde Park (and Lincoln Square and Andersonville and so on) to complete it.”

To receive an initial set of puzzle pieces, participants must spend at least $30 at one of the nine stores on July 12. After the first set, stores will not require a purchase. Stores will give out puzzle pieces through Aug. 3.

Only 180 copies of the puzzle were made.

“It’s an exclusive print; you can’t get it any other way than going to all nine of the bookstores,” Moorehead said. “We really wanted to reward people who were willing to go to all of the different stores and investigate the city, and we felt the puzzle really reflected this.”