Independent Bookstore Day Brings Romance to the Forefront


In 2020, retailers took a heavy hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the publishing industry was no exception to this unanticipated disruption. Independent bookstores were shuttered, live events were cancelled, and some release dates for up-and-coming books were pushed back for the hopefully brighter future.

Fortunately, the bookish community is resilient and adaptable. With new social-distancing experience in its toolkit, the industry has started to settle into a regular pattern with the return of Independent Bookstore Day

For those not in the know: Independent Bookstore Day is a yearly, nationwide event where over 700 independent bookstores participate in a series of day-of sales and local events.

Billed as a “hybrid event,” this year’s Independent Bookstore Day (held on April 24th, 2021) will feature socially distanced in-store activities, literary exclusives available online/in-person, and a series of virtual panels. The panels will cover numerous topics and genres, and will be hosted by a collection of authors.

Of course, the genre we’re most focused on here at Frolic is the capital “R” romance. With that in mind, we were thrilled to learn that Bookstore Day will be hosting the upcoming discussion “Beyond Fabio: The Modern Romance.” This virtual panel will be held on the same day as the Bookstore event, and will feature some amazing authors currently writing in the modern romance category.

More Details for the “Beyond Fabio” Romance Panel

“Beyond Fabio” will be panelled by authors Talia Hibbert, Thien-Kim Lam, Georgia Clark, and Paul Rudnick, with a focus on modern romance that celebrates BIPOC and LGBTQ+ happily ever afters. To round up the panel, moderation will be overseen by Destinee Hodge, Book Club Coordinator at East City Bookshop and host of Really Reading Romance.

“Diversity is not only essential in all genres, it’s an especially joyous aspect of romance writing,” says Paul Rudnick, when asked for comment on the upcoming event. “Everyone deserves an equal chance to fall hopelessly in love, mess everything up, and then at the last minute, find romantic happiness. Every voice is welcome!”

A playwright, screenwriter, and longtime novelist, Rudnick’s next book, Playing the Palace (publication date May 25, 2021), follows an American event planner who ends up in a relationship with the gay Prince of Wales after a series of tabloid-worthy mishaps.

Talia Hibbert—a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author—also has an exciting deal tied into Bookstore Day, on top of joining the panel. 

The scoop: If you spend $15 USD at a participating bookstore, you can log your purchase for a free audiobook from Hibbert’s novel, Act Your Age, Eve Brown, is one of these audiobooks up for grabs.

Hibbert’s novels are incredible, full of wit and chemistry and amazing tension. So if you’re looking for a new read, this deal is definitely one to watch. In ACT YOUR AGE, the titular character Eve Brown is a “certified hot mess,” whose penance for trouble leads her into direct confrontation with her new boss, a bread and breakfast owner who is understaffed and needs her help. Unfortunately, their personalities are polar opposites. 

Consequently, they clash.

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Also Included in the “Beyond Fabio” Panel:

Thien-Kim Lam, whose debut novel Happy Endings arrives on May 18th, 2021. The founder of Bawdy Bookworms, Thien-Kim Lam focuses on Vietnamese characters who break stereotypical boundaries.

“There are many reasons why it’s so important to elevate diverse voices in romance,” she explains when discussing the panel. “The more diverse voices who are published, the better because readers can learn about the multitude of experiences people with the same background can have. No culture is a monolith.” Her debut novel follows a young woman who tries to prove to her traditional parents that she can make her sex toy business succeed. To do so, she teams up with her ex, who is trying to save his restaurant business in turn.

Lastly, Georgia Clark, a prolific novelist, is the fourth panelist on the team. 

An Australian living in Brooklyn, Clark’s newest novel It Had to Be You arrives on May 4th, 2021. The book follows two women, Liv and Savannah, who are brought together by the death of Liv’s personal and professional business partner, Eliot. Together, they must work through an interpersonal disaster to transform the business that has been left behind. 

Clark also posted a great video on what inspired the book, and it’s one everyone should check out: 

Find More Details on Independent Bookstore Day

Independent Bookstore Day is coming up quick—only a few days away. So if you want to support your local bookish community, check out the upcoming panels, or cash in on some of those deals, then it’s best to act now.

For event details: go to the Independent Bookstore Day info page. You can also follow Independent Bookstore Day on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. On the day of the event, you can follow ongoing events via the hashtag #IndieBookstoreDay, too.


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