The end of the year is always a time for reflection, so I just took an inventory of some of my favorite Bookshop moments of 2019. With each of these, I hope we made deeper connections with our community and with the book-loving population of Santa Cruz.
Top Ten Bookshop Santa Cruz Moments of 2019
10. Summer Reading Program Increased Participation: We’ve been running a summer reading challenge for kids for the last seven years, but this year the participation rates went off the charts. Kids who read six books over the summer received a slice of pizza from Pizza My Heart, an ice cream cone from Penny Ice Creamery, a gift card to Bookshop, a prize from the Santa Cruz Warriors and, new this year, a pass for 5 free rides at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Over 725 kids completed the program (a 33% increase from last year!), meaning that we are well on our way to helping create the next generation of readers.
9. Best Books of the Decade: The turn of the decade means we had a chance to reflect on the books that made an impact on us over the last 10 years. There is nothing a bookseller loves more than making reading lists, and this was the cream of the crop. See them here.
8. Swap Candy for Books: For the first time, Bookshop created a post-Halloween candy-for-books swap which offered a discount off of kids books when kids turned in their Halloween sugar. The program was an immediate success (and not just for those thankful parents) as we donated over 520 pounds of candy to Operation Gratitude which sends care packages to troops abroad—and over 410 books made their way into local kid libraries.
7. Local Partnerships: One of our favorite things is teaming up with local organizations to create community-centered events. This year, we co-produced a panel on the life and legacy of RBG, worked with school districts and local businesses to host over 2,000 kids at an event with Dav Pilkey including 400 kids who received a free book, worked with over eight local nonprofits to discount the book White Fragility for community book circles, and more.
6. 2020 Political Caucus: We’ve always been a political store so we wanted to participate in the primary season by connecting it to books. With the help from the Democratic Women’s Club and Santa Cruz Indivisible, we held a political caucus where volunteers read and pitched the books from each of the democratic candidates and then we caucused to come up with a winner.
5. Book Group Ambassadors: This year was our first year with our Book Group Ambassador Program where we have nine volunteers providing recommendations and outreach to local book groups. We’ve learned about a ton of books from them and enjoyed how they’ve spread their passion for books in our community. So much so that we extended their terms for another year!
4. 30th Anniversary of the Earthquake: October 17th was a day of reflection as we marked the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which destroyed Bookshop Santa Cruz and much of downtown Santa Cruz. I participated in a number of interviews with my father telling the story of how our customers saved us from the rubble and helped us rebuild. It is always important to tell this story and give thanks to our community for our survival.
3. Blockbuster Fall Events: This fall was Bookshop’s largest event season in the store's history. Usually we produce four offsite events during the fall, but this season we produced twelve! From chef Sean Brock to Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power to Deepak Chopra, Malcolm Gladwell to Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, we’ve had a great time. The reason we can do this is that our community shows up and makes each event successful—so thank you for participating!
2. Slug Shop: In June, Bookshop launched the Slug Shop at Bookshop, becoming a downtown destination for all the UC Santa Cruz gear you could want. It further solidified our partnership with UC Santa Cruz who co-sponsored dozens of events with us this year. We love being ambassadors to our university and hope that you enjoy items with the best mascot in America—the banana slug!
1. Madeline Albright: In February, Bookshop hosted the largest event in store history with over 2,800 in attendance to hear former Secretary of State Madeline Albright discuss her book, Fascism: A Warning. It just goes to show how much our community cares about the state of our world. It was an incredible night for all, including a personal highlight for me, as I watched the State of the Union address from the Green Room with the Secretary before she went on stage.
Casey Coonerty Protti
Owner, Bookshop Santa Cruz