What was your first bookstore?
I have dim memories of going to a big department store in San Francisco with my mom. In the elevator, there was a label beside the floor button for BOOKS. We went there to buy two new Walter Farley books for me to take on the long airplane journey to Fairbanks, Alaska. I still have one of them.
My next bookstore was Adler’s bookstore in Fairbanks. It was owned and run by the Adlers. It was not a large bookstore, but it was a source of important purchase for me. The Cat and Mrs. Carey. Irish Fairy and Folk Tales. Books of poetry by e.e. cummings. And, as I earned the money for them, The Hobbit and then one by one, each volume of The Lord of the Rings. In HARDBACK! I remember well that they sold American flags there, but only the ones made in the USA. And that every spring, there would be a vase of flowers —- Lilacs, if I recall correctly —- and buyers were invited to take a blossom with them as they left.
I’ve patronized a lot of bookstores since then, but those ones remain forever as mileposts in my life.
So I hope readers everywhere will be celebrating their local independent bookstores by dropping in and buying a book! We have some great ones in Tacoma. Among my favorites: Culpeppers Books in the Proctor District, and Tacoma Book Center down near our beloved Tacoma Dome! And let’s not forget King’s Books! Go buy a book and let them know how much you still love brick and mortar bookstores.
One of my stops on Saturday will be University Book Store in Seattle. At 6:30, I will be there with Greg Bear, Elliott Kay and Matt Ruff for a panel discussion on Speculative Fiction. I expect to have a wonderful time there, and I do hope you will attend and enjoy also! And please do stop and tell a staff member that we are so glad they are book sellers and not just store clerks!
Fun fact: On January 10, 1900, University Book Store was started as a student owned co-op. And guess what? Despite it’s growth, it is still student owned! Check out its tale on the history page of their site.