Treasuring the Freedom to Read

Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark_thumbnailIt’s hard to imagine not being able to read any book of your choice. Harder still to realize that a huge number of favorites were once banned from the shelves. The Color Purple by Alice Walker; The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou; Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck; One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey; To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – the list goes on and on. And banning books is not just a part of history. Every year, thousands of titles are challenged by individuals and groups. Most often occurring at the library level, common concerns tend to center around racial themes, profanity, sex, violence, witchcraft and religious views. We at Seaport Books celebrate the freedom to read and recognize that along with all the other freedoms we enjoy, this one shines a bit brighter in our hearts. Here’s to keeping the light on! Explore more information about banned books including an annual list of top ten banned titles as far back as 1990:  ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom.

Great Summer Reads

Every season is the right season for good books. There’s something about Summer, however, that invites readers to relish and savor and explore even more. Perhaps it’s the delicious feel of laying a blanket out on the grass and reading away to your heart’s content. Or the fun of finding the perfect romance to read at the beach. And who doesn’t love exploring a cozy bookstore discovered on a summer road trip? Hey wait. We’re a cozy bookstore! That means we’ll be welcoming lots of folks in the next few months and we couldn’t be happier. Our shelves are brimming with books lovingly selected to offer the best in local authors, local lore and local highlights. So, whether you are already familiar with our store and want the perfect books for your stay-cation or you’re on the road and visiting us for the first time; we look forward to helping you find just the right books to satisfy a luscious Summer season of great reads. Safe travels, happy reading and see you soon!

PS: Want a head start? Visit our Choice Reads and Staff Picks page.

Art photo courtesy of The New Yorker Magazine, 2019.

Celebrating A Love Story

PhotoGrid_1554834738477.jpgAs we head into our THIRD year at Seaport Books, we’re celebrating all the love that brought us here. The love of good books. The love of discovering new titles. The love of meeting and encouraging local authors. The love of book clubs and discussions about great reads. The love of introducing young adults to amazing stories. The love of working as a team to provide great customer service. The love of children smiling at picture books. The love of seniors reconnecting with a favorite title. And the love of being a vibrant part of the community.  Thanks to all of you who appreciate and support our efforts. From the feedback we keep getting, it seems the love story is a mutual one. Here’s to happily ever after!

Uncommon Tom Hanks

hanksWhen 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!

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

book-clipart-ribbon-3Despite 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.

Doing the Books

2016-02-19_Bookkeeping-tips_Feature.jpg

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!

Best Bookstore EVER!

Bookstore_batbEarlier 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, The Bookshop Book

“His hands were weak and shaking from carrying far too many books from the bookshop. It was the best feeling.”
― Joseph Gordon-Levitt, The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Vol. 1

Happy 1st Year Seaport Books!

PhotoGrid_1522871738322.jpgWe 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!

From Page to Screen

51511615Bringing 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. 

Here’s To Enduring Tradition

PhotoGrid_1512279583223.jpgWe 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