When Tom Hanks spoke at the Portland Book Fest last November he was exactly the guy you expected and hoped to see. A regular Joe without pretense who still seems surprised by his popularity and appeal. What a rarity in the high profile Hollywood machine and in the literary world as well. Especially enjoyable were his down to earth, humble responses to the high brow NYT interviewer who was no doubt trying to impress with her vocabulary. It didn’t fly with Tom. In discussing his bestseller, Uncommon Type, he credited Nora Ephron for being the first to tell him he was a story teller and encouraging him to take up the pen. Or in this case, the typewriter. Ah, yes, the typewriter. An avid collector of antique and vintage typewriters, Hanks shared how he came up with the idea to weave them into his tales. So, each of the 17 fiction stories includes a typewriter. Some play a very integral part of the plot while others may get no more than a spot on the closet shelf. The fun part is to see where and how each will show up. Readers love the gentleness and intelligence that comes through in the writing. Romance, intrigue, nostalgia, futuristic experiments … something for everyone and at just the right dose. It’s a perfect book to pack in your suitcase and it’s easy to pick up for a quick escape read at home. It doesn’t pretend to be a great piece of literature. Uncommon Type succeeds at being a dependable, entertaining treat on all levels. Much like its author. Thanks, Tom!
Despite the line from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, the fruit of the month club is not what we’d pick as the gift that keeps on giving. That distinction goes to (drum roll): BOOKS! Is there any other vehicle that offers discovery, adventure, romance, humor, intrigue and mind boggling fact finding all at your fingertips? In addition, books are portable, affordable, have a long shelf life and definitely able to weather generations of readers. And talk about easy to gift wrap! Our store has the best titles to choose from for every age and interest on your list. In fact, we love what one gentleman said a few weeks ago: “I see you have a book entitled 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die. I think you have them all here! Nice collection.”
When in doubt, give a book. You and your giftee will be happy you did.
Given the choice, here at Seaport Books we would much rather spend time reading the books than doing the books. If we didn’t pay attention to the numbers, however, we wouldn’t be in business for very long. And we intend to stay around for quite a while. SO, we do the numbers. We watch the numbers. And we even find ways to enjoy being a part of larger numbers. Did you know, for example, that there are more than 45k authors in the US? (That’s up 5k from 2011.) There are over 1M printed books published annually in the US alone – 700k of those self-published. Add to that, an estimated 13M previously published books still available and you have a LOT of books on the market vying for shelf attention. Let’s reel it in a bit. There are 20 publishing houses in the Pacific Northwest. Those publishers represent over 180 authors from the Northwest and approximately 1k new titles each year. Then there are hundreds of Northwest authors who are self-published. All of this leads to the fact that as an indie operation with a small budget, we are diligent about finding the best books for our store and our customers. Specializing in NW topics and writers has proven to be the right choice. As we eyeball our weekly sales records, we can see the proof. Our NW category continually takes the lead in book sales and we couldn’t be happier. Hosting monthly Meet the Author evenings and book clubs, talking with indie publishers, working with local distributors … lots of time and energy spent on doing the best we can to put the best books in your hands. And that adds up to a win-win in anyone’s book!
Earlier this month, we were visited by a delightful 11-year-old boy from Niagara Falls, Canada. Upon our recommendation, he purchased The Brothers’ War by Jeff Grubb. The next day, he returned with his mother and said, “This is the best bookstore EVER!” He plans to work in a bookstore part-time when he gets to high school. We hope we inspired his intention or at least helped contribute to the idea. This is where bookstores shine. It’s the ability to connect people of all ages with a love of books, the treasures they hold and the world of possibilities presented in the pages. To physically place a book on a shelf and then in a customer’s hands and then wish them both well as they leave the store – that’s as good as it gets. Here are a few quotes about bookstores that make us smile. Of course, we now will always have a soft spot for the words spoken by the gentleman from Canada: “This is the best bookstore EVER!”
“A bookstore is one of the many pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.”
― Jerry Seinfeld
“Perhaps that is the best way to say it: printed books are magical, and real bookshops keep that magic alive.”
― Jen Campbell,
“His hands were weak and shaking from carrying far too many books from the bookshop. It was the best feeling.”
― Joseph Gordon-Levitt,
We made it! April 26th marked our one year anniversary here at Seaport Books. Our THANKS to all of you who have made our success even sweeter by your encouragement and support. We’ve hosted 24 events and welcomed readers from across the globe including over 7 countries. It’s been a year of applying know how and discovering need to know. We’ve put together a countdown of the top five things we learned this past year about having a bookstore. Here we go:
#5: Location. Location. Location. It took months to find just the right spot for our bookstore. Being on the channel, next to the town square and in a historic building proved to be a winning combination. We’re so glad we held out for the best!
#4: It takes a lot more than a love of books to run a bookstore – but loving books is what makes the running worth it.
#3: UPS = sweet anticipation. How we love to open boxes of newly ordered books.
#2: There are never enough book shelves. (See #3)
#1: The only thing better than a happy ending is a happy customer.
Here’s to many more years of happy customers, wonderful authors, good friends and great reads!
Bringing a book to the silver screen is no doubt a daunting task. We in the audience have experienced the disappointing results when the transfer doesn’t work and the cheers when it does. Here’s hoping this next title is in the latter category. Look out Jodi Picoult fans. Her latest novel Small Great Things is bound for Hollywood and slated to star Viola Davis and Julia Roberts. Even though Picoult’s past novel-to-movie venture My Sister’s Keeper got mixed reactions, its brutal look at the subjects of medical emancipation and euthanasia caused quite a stir. Small Great Things looks to channel this very visceral and raw look at the current rhetoric in the society right now. Indeed, at a time when the political and social climate is charged with issues related to color, there couldn’t be a more appropriate environment to tell a tale about race relations and white supremacy on the big screen. Casting choice for the two lead roles has already sprouted sides for and against. Fingers crossed that this dream team can do justice to a powerful story. Read our Staff Picks to find out more about the book including what inspired its title. Note: At this writing, production date has yet to be announced.
We love the Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve and then spending the night reading. Images come to mind of wool socks and hot cocoa as pages turn in front of a cozy fire. At Seaport Books, we salute the spirit of treasured reads. Our “timeless tales” display features books that have informed, entertained and inspired for generations. Hard cover, soft bound, large print, illustrated – classics come in a variety of versions. Whichever you choose to gift, know that when you give a book – you give a lifetime of opportunity.
“The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts.” Clarence Shepard Day
Last month we shared our joy at becoming the community hub we had envisioned. Author nights, book clubs, workshops, meet ‘n greets, book launches – it’s all happening. But who could have guessed the reach our store would realize? Our map of the United States is mounted on a wall so customers can mark where they are visiting from. Lots of dots from WA, BC and CA; quite a number from the East Coast states; sprinklings of folks from just about every state in between; out to HI and down into Mexico. We love seeing all those marks representing happy readers. And what we really love is the thrill of what now feels like a global community. Customers from Melborne, Tokyo, Hamburg, Kuala Lumpur and just last week, four visitors from Tallinn, Estonia. Wow! We’re going to need a bigger map! At a time when much focus is being placed on divisive words, we are pleased to be a place where a diverse audience can read works by diverse artists. Books carry the power to illuminate, engage and guide. Here’s to readers of all ages whatever corner of Planet Earth you hail from. “It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me the most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” James Baldwin
When we opened our doors a little less than four months ago, one of our primary goals was to become a community hub. A small town needs a place to fuel expanding minds and foster diverse conversations. We believed that books had the power to draw people out and to bring them together and we wanted to write a new and exciting chapter on connection. What remained to be seen, however, was whether or not the “if you build it, they will come,” concept would actually work. So, how’s it going? The short answer is: we couldn’t be happier. From day one, we’ve seen the interest and felt the excitement as customers discover our happy little store. People are surprised and delighted that we offer new books and in such a wide variety of topics. It’s wonderful watching folks connect over a hot-off-the-press title or suggest their favorite read from a best selling author. All ages, all backgrounds, all demographics … in a bookstore, no one leaves a stranger. In just these few short months, we’ve expanded our shelf space and our event calender largely in response to the community need. We’re hosting multiple book clubs, book launches, children’s story time and starting in October, an evening Read Aloud. The best part? Being a part of the community. Some days it’s ordering a special request. Some days it’s saying yes to a hopeful new author. Or welcoming guests to a book launch. And sometimes it’s simply sharing a friendly wave hello with neighbor. It does indeed take a village and we’re happy to be a part of yours! Visit our Events page to download our current Event Calender.
For many of us, our earliest memories include those of being read to by a parent. Long before we could read the words, we were mesmerized by the power of books to capture our imagination and transport us to another time and place. The world came to our door in soft and comforting ways.
Nurturing this magic is what Seaport Books is all about. Remembering what it’s like to fall in love with a character; to cringe at a page turner; to relish a happy ending – we encourage everyone to come visit an old friend. And to discover new ones. As we celebrate Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the carefree days of summer – let’s keep the magic alive through the wonderful world of books.