Anderson’s Bookshop pulls ‘best April Fool’s Joke ever’

Actress Raquel Welch greets fans during a book signing at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Ill., on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010. (Corey R. Minkanic/for the Sun-Times Media)
Actress Raquel Welch greets fans during a book signing at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Ill., on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010. (Corey R. Minkanic/for the Sun-Times Media)

In a move that is likely to send shock waves through the local business community as well as its thousands of patrons, Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville announced Tuesday it would be changing its name as well as ownership of the iconic independent bookseller than has achieved national fame.

Or at least, that’s what Becky Anderson and her staff wanted folks to think. It turned out to be a very successful April Fool’s Day prank, and dozens of patrons and booksellers from across the country found themselves congratulating Anderson and company for pulling off a hoax that left many laughing.

“We started putting this idea together a couple weeks ago last month, and it’s the first time I’ve been involved in a prank like this in the 11 years I’ve been here,” said Larry Law, who produces promotional materials and graphic design work for the bookstore. “I’ve had over 50 posts on my Twitter account about this, and there have been no negative remarks. People have loved it and said it’s the best April Fool’s joke ever.”

Owner Becky Anderson was laughing about the success of the prank herself Tuesday afternoon as she worked in the company warehouse. She said the idea came from a discussion she had with the publisher of a new book, “The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry” which was released Tuesday as well.

She said she has received word from out-of state customers are well as other booksellers offering praise for the prank.

“It’s the number one recommended book this month by independent booksellers across the country and we talked with the publisher about doing something fun to promote it,” Anderson said. “We decided to take the name of the bookstore in the book as well as the principal character in it and make that the new owner and name of Anderson’s. We added posters in the store and are offering a chance for people to win a T-shirt, a copy of the book, or the first place in line when the author, Gabrielle Zevin, comes to visit the store.”

As another element of the prank, local television station NCTV came in Tuesday morning to film a segment in which owners talked about the transfer of ownership. A follow up taping indicating this was all a prank is set to be broadcast as well.

Regarding local business reaction, Katie Wood, executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance, offered her own kudos to the local retailer.

“The genius of the April Fool’s prank released today by Anderson’s Bookshop captured many minds and hearts,” Wood said. “It speaks to just how beloved the Anderson’s name is to our community. We wish Anderson’s Bookshop many, many more years of great reading and good natured April fooling.”

Law said he even received a Tweet from author Zevin who likewise said the prank was outstanding.

“Book out today and a lot of nice things are happening,” Zevin wrote. “But my favorite might be this.”

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