This month marks the beginning of our 5th year! Opening new doors is a gamble at best. SO much goes into just getting a business up and running. Finding the best location, getting the space and layout ready, choosing a name, deciding on the theme, ordering the inventory, creating a logo and signage, bringing the team on board, etc., etc. And then holding your breath to see if customers show up and can you make enough to pay the rent. Month after month, you ride the waves of being an indie bookstore. Ups, downs, squalls and lulls. And then, let’s throw in a pandemic to see if we really can keep it afloat! Happy to report that so far so good. We love our location on Gilkey Square and we love being an integral part of the community. Even in tough times, people are finding us on foot and Facebook. Whether it’s an order via phone line or on line, we’re staying connected. And in our book, that says it all! Thank you and here’s to another 5 years for Seaport Books!
“You’re NOT too old!” If you have something you want to try – start now. That was the one message author Kay Jennings wanted to share loud and clear with our readers. And she should know. After 45 years in corporate communications, Kay decided it was time to stop writing for other people. So, in 2018 at the age of 70, she published her first book, Shallow Waters. It was SO well received that at the age of 71, she published a second one, Midnight Beach. The response was even better this time and the author shows no signs of slowing down.
Speaking with us from her home in Estacada, OR, Kay shared her ordeal of having to evacuate her home for six days during the recent wildfires. “The single most terrifying experience of my life!” When asked if that horrendous scare would have an effect on her writing, the answer was a resounding yes. In the throes of her third book, Kay has been inspired to weave a natural disaster into the story line. Current working title: Code Tsunami. Seems perfect given that her mystery-suspense Port Stirling series is set alongside the Oregon Coast.
What has the author been reading during these pandemic months? “I have 22 books on my nightstand.” A huge fan of British mysteries, the she is obsessed with UK author Elly Griffiths and the Ruth Gallaway series. Also high on her list is the goddess herself, Louise Penny (she’s on Book 14) along with Anne Cleeves whose Shetland Island series inspired Kay’s Port Stirling series. She has just started reading Agent Running in the Field by 94 year old John Le Carre and recently finished and enjoyed Becoming by Michelle Obama.
A member of Sisters in Crime, Willamette Writers and Oregon Writers Colony; Kay is also a master gardener. She enjoys life on her rural property which is complete with ponds, veggie garden and, most especially, her corner office where she writes with a view of it all.
Kay shared that the main thing she misses from the personal bookstore appearances are all the great questions from the audience. SO – we welcome any questions you may have for her. Feel free to email us and we’ll happily compile questions and post the answers for other readers to enjoy as well.
With fond memories of boating on the Swinomish, Kay looks forward to returning to Skagit Valley some day. And we look forward to welcoming her when she does!
In the meantime, we currently have both of Kay’s books in the store (reviews posting here later this week). Stop by to pick up orcontact us for free shipping. Note: Always a good idea to call ahead to make sure the books are ready.
Who would have thought that we’d be starting our 4th year in the midst of a pandemic?! But here we are. Along with thousands of independent bookstores across the globe, we have had to shake off the nerves and focus on a solution to staying in business. We had to figure out the answer to: when the doors are ordered closed, how does a walk-in operation survive? It is very much a two-part answer. First – we had to shift into full time phone and online orders. Second – we had to have customers continue to virtually come our way. The good news? Both seem to be working. And the even better news? The interaction with customers has been personal, heartwarming and encouraging. From the doctor who bought each staff member a gift certificate for the book of their choice; to the mom wanting to know the best books for her children; to the son ordering a cookbook for his mom – so many people connecting with love across the wires. They’ve expressed thanks for our selection help, sadness at not being able to visit in person, and thumbs up for hanging in there. The healing power of books is something Seaport Books has always known to be true. During times of crisis, that power is doubled by the community spirit that holds each and every page. Thank you for your continued support. We look forward to being here for you today, tomorrow and beyond!
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!
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, 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
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!
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