Jo HacklAs Southerners, we’re known for our connection to place and independent bookstores are an enormous part of our landscape. Independent bookstores serve as the backbone of many of our communities. In every town I’ve visited this last year of touring for my book, I’ve seen indie bookstores in action, helping readers connect with the power of story and providing a place to gather, a place to learn, and a place to explore. I’ve witnessed the way indie booksellers continue to guide readers to the perfect book at the perfect time.

So it’s only natural to have a holiday celebrating the role of independent bookstores. April 27 is Independent Bookstore Day and I hope that the day will be celebrated by readers across the country with the same level of energy and creativity that independent booksellers bring to their work every day.

As for me, I’ve gathered up a few of my book-loving friends to caravan to our three local indie bookstores. We’ll volunteer to help out in any way, we’ll buy lots of books for local children in need, and we’ll deliver bookseller care kits.

Smack Dab in the Middle of MaybeI’m a big believer in the power of the outdoors to spark creativity and renewal and my book contains a family tradition called “Woods Time.” I wanted to create a custom “Woods Time” experience for my local booksellers by providing them with a Bookseller Woods Time Care Kit. The kit includes supplies for a picnic including snacks to help while away an afternoon, prompts for engaging with nature, and a notebook to record all the great ideas that time spent in nature inspires.

Every day indie booksellers are making our communities better, book by book, and reader by reader and I look forward to hearing of the ways that communities honor their independent booksellers.

Jo Watson Hackl’s debut novel, Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe (Random House Children’s Books), was awarded the Southern Book Prize and named an Indie Next Pick and an Okra pick. The book combines outdoor adventure with an art mystery clue trail. Free resources for readers and educators are available at