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Celebrating People, Places & the Good Life in SW Washington State
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The Booksellers of Long Beach Peninsula

“A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.” Jerry Seinfeld

Bookstore owners are a hardy (and hearty) bunch. With low profit margins and high overhead, bookstore ownership is not for the faint-hearted. Toss in the pressure from online sales and chain bookstores, and booksellers are downright courageous to be in the industry. We are lucky to have them.

On the Long Beach Peninsula of the Washington Coast, four tenacious booksellers are passionate about books. From Ilwaco to Long Beach to Ocean Park, they serve their communities and thousands of visitors. Open hours may vary with the season, so call ahead for details.

Time Enough Books, Ilwaco

Karla Nelson and Harper Lee of Time Enough Books

Time Enough Books (157 Howerton Avenue, Ilwaco Harbour Village at the Port of Ilwaco, 360-642-7667) surely must have one of the best views of ANY bookstore in the country. Overlooking the Ilwaco marina, just inside the Columbia River bar, and its commercial and recreational boat fleets, the store is a mainstay of the shops and restaurants along the harbor walk. Fresh seafood is nearby. May through September, the promenade in front of the store features a Saturday market. Depending on the season and weather, there can be a lot happening here.

After collecting and dealing books and filling their home with tomes for “years and years” and inspired by Portland’s Powell’s Books and Robert’s Books of Lincoln City, Karla and Peter Nelson opened Time Enough Books in May 2000. At that time most of the buildings along the harbor were boarded up. Karla had, in fact, cleaned fish as a teenager in the building. It was a “leap of faith,” she says.

Time Enough Books now operates a 7 day a week, year-round shop featuring 80% new and 20% used books. “Every book is handpicked by me,” Karla says. She is happy to recommend titles, including favorites from the book group, which meets at the store. Harper Lee, a golden lab, is the store greeter.

While all genres are stocked, not surprising, the maritime section is a strong one, reflecting Peter Nelson’s experience as a seaman. Chairs by the fireplace encourage reading. And if you haven’t found just the right book (or even if you have), Harper Lee will keep you entertained.

Banana Books, Long Beach

Ed Gray and Sobe of Banana Books

You won’t find very many banana trees in Long Beach, but you will find Banana Books (114 3rd Street, SW, Long Beach, 360-642-7005) in the old town part of the beach community. Owner Ed Gray worked for 20 years as a book scout and wholesaler or rare books. A small, year-round shop, Banana Books features used titles. “We have a good eye for titles that people are looking for,” says Ed. He knows his books.

His customers are 80% tourists with three-quarters of his business, like many other Peninsula shops, coming in June through September. (That’s a shame because the peninsula is so relaxing and conducive to reading in winter!) Many of his customers are looking for entertaining beach reads including titles by Patrick McManus, Clive Cussler and Carl Hiaasen. From literature to quick vacation books, Ed offers a diverse collection. Sadly, he doesn’t have much time to crack open his inventory. “I’m a bookseller but I don’t have a chance to read,” he says. He’s a fan of Raymond Carver.

More than books, the nine-year-old shop has an espresso bar and a large deck in front of the store. Jewelry shoppers should check out the stunning earrings and necklaces created by jewelry designer Mary Johnson, Ed’s wife. Another family member, Sobe, an American Staffordshire, will also be happy to meet you.

Catherine O’Toole Bookseller, Ocean Park

Catherine O'Toole and Jetsam of Catherine O'Toole Bookseller

Antiquarian, rare and out-of-print books are the specialties of Catherine O’Toole Bookseller (1310 Bay Avenue, Ocean Park, 360-665-0004). Located in a historic 1880s building – a former Methodist Church and Moose Lodge – her shop is packed floor to ceiling with her collection, which numbers about 68,000 titles. She also carries new local history and guidebooks. “I can’t resist books,” she says. “It’s very gratifying to be able to say to a customer, ‘Oh yes, I’ve got that.’”

In a book-filled office in the front of the shop, Catherine spends her days online, selling her titles through biblio.com and other book sites, and shipping them around the world. Her business model of online selling keeps the store viable year-round.

She was born in Ireland, studied in England and moved to the US in 1967. She studied political science, horticulture and landscape architecture at the University of Washington, where she received her BA. A lifelong learner, Catherine now takes computer classes through the Grays Harbor College at the Community Education Center in Ilwaco. She is also perfecting her pool skills through a league at Doc’s Tavern down the block.

If she could turn back the clock, she would like to be a member of London’s Bloomsbury Group of Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster and other writers and artists. “They didn’t work,” she says.” They hung out being intellectuals.” Catherine hangs out with her thousands of books, her online and in-store customers and Jetsam, her black and white cat.

Adelaide’s Books, Ocean Park

Cyndy Hayward and Miles of Adelaide's Books

Across the street from Catherine’s shop, another historic building houses a bookstore. As an owner of the Taylor Hotel (1887-mid-1930s), Adelaide Taylor spent more than 40 years running the lodging spot in the two-story wooden structure in Ocean Park. She died in 1940 but lives on through a bookstore named for her – Adelaide’s Books (1401 Bay Avenue, Ocean Park). Cyndy Hayward, a Seattle attorney who moved to Oysterville, bought the building with its expansive wrap-around porch and spent a year renovating it into an airy and inviting bookstore and coffeehouse. She opened the business in 2008.

Approximately 3,000 new books are well-organized from the children’s area with its charming mural to young adult, fiction, non-fiction collections and the poetry section, which Cyndy was advised against. The naysayer was wrong. “We sell poetry almost every day of the week,” Cyndy says proudly. She offers a diverse, handpicked collection. “We receive strong feedback on the quality of the books.” Miles, her friendly, full-sized poodle receives positive strokes, too. He blends right in as he sleeps on the loveseat.

The space is well-suited for game nights and author readings. The upstairs includes apartments and one day might house a low-power community radio station. “I want to make this into a community place,” she says. “Books. Coffee. Pastry. Talk.” is the shop’s tagline. What more could you want?

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12 comments

1 The Booksellers of Long Beach Peninsula | { 02.23.10 at 12:16 pm }

[…] Read on… […]

2 Sue Anderson { 03.02.10 at 10:31 am }

Hmmm…seems like if you want to own a bookstore, you first need to have a pet! And Harper Lee is one good-looking yellow Lab! Keep up the good work, Katlin!

3 Katlin Smith { 03.02.10 at 10:37 am }

Yup, Harper Lee looked just like your Charlie, who would make a great bookstore dog, too!

4 Kelly Adams { 03.10.10 at 12:44 pm }

LOVE all the shop animals! Pets + Coffee+Books= HEAVEN

5 Katlin Smith { 03.10.10 at 2:52 pm }

Maybe I should call this post “Bookstore Pets and Their Owners of Long Beach Peninsula.” They are all very sweet!

6 Una Boyle { 04.19.10 at 1:28 pm }

I think everyone of these bookstore owners – as well as their pets – do us proud here on the Long Beach Peninsula! Thanks for showcasing them.
Una

7 Eat. Explore. Love. — Southwest Washington ZEST { 08.24.10 at 6:17 pm }

[…] love to be photographed with their pets. Even the shyest person is happy to be in a pet photo. The booksellers of Long Beach Peninsula, and their pets, were especially photogenic. Karla and Harper Lee of Time Enough Books in […]

8 Jane S Poole { 04.18.12 at 10:45 am }

This gorgeous website, which I found when searching for bookstores in SW Washington, offers so much! I’ve subscribed to your feed.

9 Katlin Smith { 04.18.12 at 11:10 am }

Thanks, MUCH, Jane!

10 Liz Elfring { 04.19.12 at 4:24 pm }

Love the WA coast, and one can never have enough books! I’ll look in on all your stores next visit!!!!!!

11 Katlin Smith { 04.20.12 at 9:02 am }

Agreed! I think that independent booksellers are the heroes of the world!

12 20+ Not-To-Be-Missed Southwest Washington Events in May — Southwest Washington ZEST { 05.01.12 at 10:43 am }

[…] May 25-26 – World’s Longest Garage Sale – For more than 20 years on Memorial Weekend, the garages, yards, patios and other flat surfaces of the Long Beach Peninsula have been filled with treasures for, count ‘em, 28 miles! Get out your most comfortable shoes and lots of dollar bills. And don’t forget to take a break to enjoy the ocean and the bookstores mentioned in this 2010 ZEST blog post about the booksellers of  Long Beach Peninsula. […]

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