One of our favorite getaways is located in the state of Washington along the Puget Sound. A Victorian shipping town established in circa 1851, Port Townsend is about 40 miles west of Seattle and sits opposite Vancouver Island, Canada, on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Not much about downtown Port Townsend has changed as you can see from this look at Main Street buildings viewed from the bay.
Several years ago we were strolling down Main Street after lunch when we happened upon William James, Bookseller. Book fanatics that we are we went right in.
The next several hours were spent in absolute delight searching and finding books we thought we’d never come across again. One of my set of Anne of Green Gables books had gone missing in a move from Tennessee to Oregon, and yes, William James had a copy!
William James has all the essentials of a great bookstore: dark, crowded shelves and aisles, the smell of old paper and leather, new and old books, hard-to-find books, books you have to climb a short ladder to reach, hidden rooms off the back of the main room, old and worn out leather club chairs for sitting while you browse the dusty pages of a book. And did I mention the shop is housed in a great Victorian building?
What more could a book fanatic want?
The only other thing would be great customer service, and William James, although not online or fully computer-facilitated, is capable of rendering exceptional customer service.
An example: my husband owns an almost complete set of Automobile Quarterly, a car collector and designer’s dream set of books. For years, we’ve tried to complete that set and some volumes are very rare.
We gave William James a copy of our existing list, and they actually found one of the copies we were searching for. It took six months or so, but the employees were diligent, pleasant and stuck to the task until completed.
If you’re ever in the area of Port Townsend, a drive over to visit William James is in order. Along the street are many other shops and eateries that will be amenable to making for a fun getaway.
When we’re there, we usually set aside a full day for William James and then go back several times for shorter visits or to pick up that book we left by mistake.
As a bonus, here’s a tourist tip if you want to stay in Port Townsend. The town is crawling with wonderful Victorian houses converted to B&Bs, easily found by searching the Chamber of Commerce website.
However, having stayed in several of the B&Bs, we happened to luck upon a place we enjoy a good deal more. Called The Sea Loft, it’s nestled away near a dead-end street and out the dining area window, we can see Puget Sound and lovely landscaping, AND we’re in walking distance of William James. Here’s a glimpse of The Sea Loft view and a book lover’s feature:
Well, no more dreaming of Port Townsend now — I’ve got books to read and one to write!