#43 Cloud and Leaf Bookstore

P1010299The Cloud and Leaf Bookstore
148 Laneda Ave
Manzanita, OR 97130

America, bibliophiles, consider yourselves warned.  Walking into this store is like stumbling upon the island of the Lotus Eaters.  You will forget everything about yourself and just gaze slack-jawed at the lovely, thoughtful selection of books, at the lovelier people selling them, at the sidelines, at the collection of berets, at the donuts.  You will want to stay here!

The store is tiny, but it’s the perfect example of infinity in a nutshell.  The atmosphere pleasantly overwhelms.  I haven’t stopped thinking about it.P1010295

In fact, it’s so comfortable here that after two minutes of pleasantries with the booksellers, I pull up a chair and sit…and sit…and sit.  And then we disassemble the universe and bookselling and books and life, and everything seems to slip into place and click.  And I realize that the coolest thing about this project is that to a person, across this country, I’m meeting exactly the people in a community whom I would want to know anyway.

And then as if to put an exclamation point on my thought, one of the booksellers produces a bottle of whiskey and we drink.  Then the whiskey makes us all start laughing and we talk some more.  And all the while customers are coming in and are browsing and buying books and entering into the conversations when they can, and the ones who can’t, well they just look askance and hurry out.  And then I remember that I am supposed to ask them something specific about their store, but it seems forced, and so I just as quickly forget.

But I do remember that the owner named her store after a Mary Oliver poem.  I also remember something about tourists and squirrel-based economics.   There was also talk of giraffes….

I hate to gush and i’m sure this seems over the top, but while all of the bookstores I’ve been to and all the people I’ve met have been super cool, if you find yourself anywhere on the west coast, make a beeline to this store on the Oregon coast.  It’s a different kind of special.


Published in: on July 30, 2009 at 11:09 pm  Comments (1)  

#42 Cannon Beach Book Company

Cannon Beach Book CompanyCannon Beach Book Company
130 N. Hemlock #2
Cannon Beach, OR 97110

Cannon Beach is an upscale destination with a lot of 2nd homes, resorts, and daytrippers from Portland and Seattle.

As a result, boomtime for Cannon Beach Books is between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  So, according to owner Valeria Ryan, if you can plan ahead and “live with th cycle,” business is good.  Considering this store has been around since 1972, I’d say they’re doing all right working with this model of keeping a just in time inventory.P1010265

For the first time on this trip, someone talks about merchandising being a part of the model.  I imagine it is everywhere, but here they seem very conscious of it.  Cannon Beach pays a lot of attention to merchandising their highly curated selection of books.  They present their books more than stock them, creating, “A browser’s paradise staffed by people who know a lot about books and can speak about them passionately.

So, yes, books are nicely presented cover out, and with pedestrians wandering in and being drawn to the displays, it seems like this conscious effort of catching a reader’s eye works.

A nice store.


Published in: on July 30, 2009 at 9:11 am  Leave a Comment  

#41 Beach Books

Beach BooksBeach Books
37 North Edgewood
Seaside, OR 97130

An accidental, though appreciated, aspect of this trip has been my stumbling over America’s history.  Back East it was in places like Concord and with character like Daniel Boone.  Here on the stunning Oregon coast, in Seaside — a couple of hours from Portland — it’s the end of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  Very, very cool!

Beach Books is a fairly new store — less than five year’s old.  The owner, Karen Emmerling,  just kind of opened it one day.  She was a book lover without any experience selling books.  P1010278

She was also a quick study.

Today, Beach Books is a neat store a couple of blocks from the beach and serving a seasonal crowd.  It is  is a comfortable place to be.  Like the bookstores on Cape Cod, this coastal book store relies on tourists in the summer season.  They also have a core audience of locals that help keep the lights on during the year.

Karen found that working with the city’s development association was a great way to build local business.

An interesting thing they do here is involve schools by having children write book reviews for their kids section.

Very nice place to visit.


Published in: on July 28, 2009 at 11:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

#40 Powell’s Books

P1010256Powell’s Books
1005 W Burnside
Portland, OR 97209

Cue the trumpets!  Cue the elephants and dancing girls.  Ladies and gentleman, I give you Powell’s.  Really, what else is there to say?

This is where books go to heaven:  The largest new and used bookstore in the world.  68,000 sq ft.  — a full city block long — books, books, books, coffee, and books.  People on every floor and in every cranny.  People streaming in all day.

I can almost promise that you will find the book you’re looking for.  3,000 used books are purchased every day.  If it was published, it’s sure to be in one of the 9 color-coded rooms, on one of the four floors.  Just ask a bookseller.  You’re sure to find someone.  There are, after all, around 200 employees working here.P1010260

The store has been around since 1971.  It’s a valuable part of the community.  A tourist destination of the first order and one of the largest draws in the state.  There’s also the website,complete with reviews, author interviews, essays and blog.

It’s truly a labyrinth that would make Borges swoon.  Not only will you find books you’re looking for, you’ll find books you had never even considered, but realize you suddenly need.

Every bibliophile should make a point to visit this store.  Every person in the book business should as well.  Every bookseller, author, agent, publicist, editor, publisher, and intern should have to set foot inside this store and look for one book.   Just for the sheer joy of it.

An absolutely must not miss!


Published in: on July 24, 2009 at 5:11 pm  Comments (4)  

#39 Broadway Books

Brooadway BooksBroadway Books
1714 NE Broadway
Portland, OR 97232

I made it to Portland and found this very pleasant bookstore on the indiebound store locater. Then I rented a bike and rode over.  It was a great way to see the neighborhood.  NE Broadway is a busy street with restaurants, cafes, supermarkets.  There’s car traffic and foot traffic.  It’s a great place to have a bookstore.

and Broadway Books is a very pleasant bookstore.  One of the owners was there –Sally Mcphereson–and she was welcoming and friendly.  I also met one of the booksellers, Jennie.  They were both so pleasant that once we got to talking I forgot to take notes!  Instead, we talked about books and the business of selling and they had a copy of my book and I hand-sold my own book to the first person who walked in. It was all very fun. P1010245

Here’s what I did manage to write down: Broadway books has been in business for seventeen years.  Their motto is “A great little store with great big service.”  It’s easy to see why with these two.

An interesting thing they do here is the book club mixer.  They invite representatives of book clubs to go over titles and then they make a party of it . Their customers are their friends — their community.

If you need it, they have it, or can get it.  The store is great and a great alternative to #40, if you just want to pick something up quickly.

Definitely worth a bike ride.


Published in: on July 23, 2009 at 8:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

#38 University Book Store

University Book StoreUniversity Book Store
4326 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

Seattle’s largest and oldest independent bookstore is and also isn’t the  bookstore for The University of Washington.  Allow me to explain: University Book Store was opened by students 110 years ago.  It is not affiliated with the college.  However, it was set up to benefit students, staff, and faculty specifically.

So, yes, they sell textbooks, but they also host around 500 events a year for the public.  They sell school supplies and school jerseys, but they also host authors.  As a result this is a large store with a lot of support. P1010235

University Book Store carries art supplies; they have a cafe; they have a gift dept.  Now, they’re also expanding their used book section and building contacts with organizations and non profits in the commnunity.

This is biggest of all the stores I’ve seen in Seattle.  It’s right by UW, so there are plenty of people walking by and the neighborhood is plenty active.


Published in: on July 22, 2009 at 10:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

#37 Queen Anne Books

Queen Anne BooksQueen Anne Books
1811 Queen Anne Ave N.
Seattle, WA 98109

Maybe it was the bookseller in her purple pom-pom socks, maybe it was the smart collection of books, maybe it was that everyone was in a really great mood, whichever, Queen Anne Books was a lot of fun to visit and is definitely worth a special trip if you’re in Seattle.

The store is tucked away beside a popular coffee house in Central Seattle, an historic neighborhood “up the hill.”  Central Seattle is a neighborhood rich in indie shops — ten blocks worth.  The area is pedestrian friendly.  Queen Anne Books is the only new bookstore in the area.P1010230

Fiction is the biggest seller in this store.  They are also well known for their extensive children’s section.  There are two thriving bookclubs and the store is known as “The Recommendations Bookstore” because this is above all else, a store of readers.

And a very smart idea here: they use their limited advertising budget to donate gift certificates to area schools and community silent auctions and fundraisers.  It’s a good way to build goodwill and get people from the community back  into the store.

Worth a special visit.


Published in: on July 21, 2009 at 2:07 pm  Comments (1)  

#36 Fremont Place Book Company

P1010227Fremont Place Book Company
621 N 35th ST.
Seattle, WA 98103

Fremont is a funky, gentrified part of North Seattle.  It’s a fifteen-minute bus ride from downtown.  Fremont Place Book Company is a 20 year old store that has been serving its neighborhood’s needs with a smart and unique selection of books that the owner Henry chooses himself.

It’s a very good-looking store.  Pleasant and small, but smart.  They sell new books, but they do a couple of interesting things to add to the bottom line and draw customers in.  P1010222

To draw customers in Fremont rents out Audiobooks.  They charge a weekly rental fee of $6.  They also host readings with wine tastings.

And to add to their bottom line, Fremont Place works with professional organizations, associations, and conferences to work at offsite events supplying books that might be needed for a special meeting.  Not part of the core business — paperback fiction is their strongest seller — but an alternate revenue stream that helps.

If you’re in North Seattle, this is one store worth checking out.


Published in: on July 20, 2009 at 8:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

#35 Square One Books

P1010220Square One Books
4724 42nd Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116

This all-new bookstore in West Seattle is ten minutes from Downtown.  It’s been around for 22 years and has been voted West Seattle’s best bookstore.  It’s in a strip-mall, but the location is great and there are a lot of people walking around.

Square One isn’t a large store, but it is supported by the West Seattle community and the folks at Square One Books know their customers well.  They pride themselves on being able to talk to their customers about books and serving them as well as they can.  They even provide free delivery!  P1010214

All and all this feels like a strong general trade bookstore.  They carry a lot of different titles, and they know how to provide quality service to their customers.


Published in: on July 19, 2009 at 4:50 pm  Comments (1)  

#34 Bailey/Coy Books

Bailey Coy BooksBailey/Coy Books
414 Broadway E.
Seattle, WA

Capitol Hill, Seattle is the Pacific NW’s densest neighborhood.  There are a lot of young people here, a lot of college kids, and it’s the heart of Seattle’s gay community.  There’s life here.  There’s music.  There’s a lot of pedestrian traffic.

Michael Wells is the owner of Bailey/Coy books.  It’s a good-looking store with a lot of open space and a welcoming atmosphere.  Wells bought his store five years ago after having been the manager for 20.  And it’s all about the neighborhood.  Bailey/Coy is the only new bookstore in the neighborhood.  They carry high-quality stuff that their neighbors would buy.P1010210

“Our mix reflects our neighborhood,” Wells says.  While the book store started out with strong gay and lesbian selections, it’s now a more general trade store, though they do still carry gay titles and benefit from strong sentimental support from the community.

Bailey/Coy hosts publication parties, but they avoid having too many events.  It’s all about the neighborhood and neighborhood support for these folks.


A great store, and easy to reach.  If you visit Capitol Hill as a tourist — and you probably will — Bailey/Coy is definitely worth a peek.  They carry a great selection of books and sidelines.

Published in: on July 18, 2009 at 9:20 pm  Leave a Comment