Stepping through the front door at Franklin’s Wild Geese Bookshop is to be nearly engulfed with books.

Hundreds of titles are neatly arranged on shelves covering each of the walls of the small shop.

Shoppers browse through historical memoirs, collections of poetry, young adult fantasy and dozens of other genres. They can see the colorful cover, learn about the author from the dust jacket, flip through the chapters and catch that unmistakable scent of newly printed pages.

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At Wild Geese, the act of finding a book you relate to is an experience.

“The thing about books and independent book stores is that it’s a virtual reality empathy machine. It puts you in the position of another person,” said Tiffany Lauderdale Phillips, owner of Wild Geese. “What books give us is an opportunity to walk in other people’s shoes and get their perspective, but also to see ourselves.”

That experience will be celebrated Saturday as Wild Geese joins nearly 500 other brick-and-mortar stores on Independent Bookstore Day. Shops will have special books and other items, offer entertainment, readings and giveaways to bring customers in.

By putting the spotlight on indie shops, the hope is to emphasize how important physical bookstores are to communities around them, said Samantha Schoech, program director for Independent Bookstore Day.

“It’s a big national party to remind readers and book lovers that these stores are still very much around and very much in business, and thriving. They are anchors of their towns and cities, and in many ways the heart and soul of their communities,” she said.

Independent Bookstore Day was founded as a way to bring attention to small shops in cities and towns throughout the country. The event is on the last Saturday in April, and since it started nationally in 2015 the campaign has grown to include hundreds of stores throughout the U.S.

As services such as Amazon have made ordering books online more convenient and affordable, a notable effort is being made to push back and support independent bookstores. Indie shops are on the rise throughout the nation.

According to the American Booksellers Association, the number of independent bookstores has risen 25 percent since 2009. Bookstore sales increased by 6.1 percent last year over 2015.

“For a long time, all of the news about the book business in general is that it was crashing and burning,” Schoech said. “That’s not true. There are more bookstores opening every year than closing. It’s still a very vibrant and essential business.”

Similar to “shop local” efforts such as Record Store Day and Small Business Saturday, the day helps focus attention on the vital role independent businesses play, Schoech said.

Each store is free to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day as they choose.

Bookmamas, located in the Indianapolis neighborhood of Irvington, will feature a store scavenger hunt and readings from Kurt Vonnegut’s “A Man Without a Country.”

Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore in the Butler Tarkington area has plans to let children make their own sock puppets and bookmarks, as well as learn about survival skills with guest Laura Martin, author of “Edge of Extinction: The Ark Plan.”

The Indiana Historical Society’s Basile History Market — a repository of Indiana-based authors and stories — will feature door prizes, the opportunity for kids to make their own children’s book and 10 percent off regularly priced books.

The goal is to make every store’s experience unique and personal, encouraging people to actually come into the store rather than just shop online, Lauderdale Phillips said.

“It’s a real community feeling, and part of what makes independent bookstores special is they further community. It’s a day that celebrates all of that,” she said. “They have a sense of almost being a block party.”

Wild Geese, which opened its doors in downtown Franklin in November, will be hosting its first Independent Bookstore Day event. While the celebration could not only bring attention to her shop, Lauderdale Phillips wanted the day to be a kind of an entry point into the busy summer event lineup in downtown Franklin, she said.

The centerpiece of the festivities will be a performance by the Circle City Sidewalk Stompers. The marching clown band features brass musicians dressed up in outlandish outfits, playing high-energy songs such as “It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got That Swing” and “Gimme Some Lovin’.”

Currently the official pep band of the Indiana Pacers, founder Stever Sutherlin lives in Franklin. The band will start their performance on North Main Street near Banta Street before taking their traveling concert toward the downtown square and Wild Geese.

“We kind of wanted it to feel like a flash mob kind of thing, so that when people are eating outside at the Willard or walking around downtown, there will be this happy music coming by,” Lauderdale Phillips said. “We wanted people who live in Franklin to be in the know, but also for people who are in town visiting to be surprised.”

The Circle City Sidewalk Stompers will proceed to play a 30-minute show downtown, Lauderdale Phillips said.

Jessica Nunemaker, a local author who wrote “Little Indiana,” a guide to the myriad small towns throughout the state, will be signing books and speaking. Balloons, snacks and other surprises are also in store.

“We really want it to be a family day, where you can come here, browse some books and have a family experience here in the community,” Lauderdale Phillips said.

At a glance

Independent Book Store Day

What: A nationwide campaign to bring attention to independent booksellers and their role in the community.

Stores taking part: About 490 are signed up to host events.

Local participants

Wild Geese Bookshop

Where: 107 S. Water St., Franklin

When: Noon to 6 p.m. Saturday

What: The family-centric event will feature balloons, snacks, a book signing by Indiana author Jessica Nunemaker, and a musical procession and performance by the Circle City Sidewalk Stompers.

Information: wildgeesebookshop.com

Basile History Market

Where: 450 W. Ohio St., Indianapolis

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

What: Each visitor will receive a ticket for a door prize, and every $10 spent in the store will earn them an additional ticket. A bookmaking activity station will allow kids to make their own Golden Books. Visitors will receive 10 percent off all regularly priced books. Authors MIke Murphy, 10 a.m. to noon; Jeremy Pohlen, noon to 2 p.m.; and Jeffrey Kamm, 2 to 4 p.m., will make appearances.

Information: shop.indianahistory.org

Bookmamas

Where: 9 S. Johnson St., Indianapolis

When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday

What: Activities will include a store scavenger hunt, readings from Kurt Vonnegut’s “A Man Without a Country” and a Golden Book activity table for children. Authors Brian Sweany and Sheri Wood Emmons will do book signings from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m..

Information: bookmamas.com

Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore

Where: 5619 N. Illinois St., Indianapolis

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday

What: Customers can enjoy in-store discounts on merchandise, children can make sock puppets and bookmarks, and a slate of authors will speak on basic survival skills. Laura Martin, author of “Edge of Extinction: The Ark Plan” and Mike Mullin, who wrote the Ashfell trilogy, will present.

Information: kidsinkbooks.com

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Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.