Tag Archives: Indie Booksellers

Friday Favorites | William James, Bookseller – A Favorite Place to Spend Time

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 books

William James, Bookseller on Main Street, Port Townsend, WA

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.

A glimpse inside William James

A glimpse inside William James

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:

Sea Loft view from dining area

Well, no more dreaming of Port Townsend now — I’ve got books to read and one to write!

Just for book lovers!

Just for book lovers!

Friday Favorites | Powell’s City of Books, Portland, Oregon

Who is lucky enough to live in Portland, OR? Why, I am!

Why does living in Portland make me lucky?

It’s also the home of Powell’s City of Books!  

Powell's block-sized, many-storied, many-roomed City of Books at sunrise

Powell’s block-sized, many-storied, many-roomed City of Books at sunrise

However, Powell’s was not originally established in Portland. Michael Powell started what has become his famously large bookstore in Chicago. For a full history of Powell’s since it’s beginnings in Portland in the early 1970s, you can visit Powell’s Company History page. There is also an interesting overview of Michael Powell’s leadership as well as links to two interviews.

Powell's floor-to-floor, room-to-room map

Powell’s floor-to-floor, room-to-room map

Once inside, customers are dizzied by the large array of books, new and used, and the number of rooms and how to get around. Being a full-service, customer-oriented, bookstore, Powell’s provides a lovely, colored floor plan to aid the customer. Just imagine spending all day and most of the evening in this maize.

To take a personal tour and learn more about each floor, you can click here and be transported to Powell’s.

Before I retired in 2006, I worked across the street from Powell’s. It was a great place to spend a lunch hour and the exercise walking room to room and up and down stairs could not be beat, and it was free. Of course, there was the occasional bood expenditures that did cost me.

Last year Powell’s underwent a renovation and expansion project. From the images I found on the web site, the interior has changed a bit since I was last there:

Rare Book Room

Rare Book Room

Kids Book Room

Kids Book Room

Pillar of Books -- my favorite addition!

Pillar of Books — my favorite addition!

Powell’s Cafe

In addition to this downtown site, Powell’s maintains three other full-service stores, plus a technical store and a gardening and cookbook store.

In the community, Powell’s is a driving force behind protecting the environment by partnering with the Green Press Initiative. Some of the ways Powell’s works to be a green retailer is by equipping its warehouse with solar panels, the cafe composts, uses biodiesel in its delivery trucks, began in 2007 purchasing Clean WindSM Power, and using environmentally responsible resources in its recent expansion and remodeling projects.

Powell’s is very active in donating books to our local schools in Portland and Beaverton, a suburb of Portland. Powell’s sponsors the School Book Challenge program donating upwards of 50,000 books to local students.

AND don’t forget Powell’s has a strong online presence in retailing as well. Their store staff are committed to helping you find and purchase whatever is on your list, whether shopping in the store or online.

We Portlanders are very proud of Powell’s City of Books and all that they do in and for the community in keeping us in books! Can you tell?

Do you have a store that’s a favorite of yours?

Why not share something about it below!

UP NEXT: Friday Favorites with a look at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon.


Recent Book Haul!

Any book blogger knows a lot of the books we receive for review are provided to us free in exchange for fair reviews. That’s all well and good. BUT . . .

Every now and then a bookaholic likes to shop for books. That can get expensive, but purchasing books supports starving writers and book shop owners. I prefer shopping Indie book sellers and, not unexpectedly, their prices run a bit higher.

Recently I had the good fortune to win — yes, I said WIN — a lovely gift certificate from Sandra Brannan, author of the Liv Bergen Mystery Series. It was a simple enough contest I ran across on Sandra’s Facebook Page — simply leave a comment naming your favorite Indy bookstore for a chance to win. That’s all I did — and I won!

Here are images of the books I spent my gift certificate for at Annie Bloom’s:

Books purchased for me

Books purchased for me

For my better half, Bob

For my better half, Bob

and one other they were out of, but graciously ordered for me:

Reaching by Grace Peterson

Reaching by Grace Peterson

Reaching is a memoir written by my online friend, Grace Peterson of Subplots by Grace.

I could certainly get into buying this many books at one haul, but with all the “Book of the Day” books I receive (more about this in a later post), I don’t know when I’ll get my book written for spending time reading such delicious and delectable writings from others.

Have you made a book haul lately and, if so, what did you pick up or bring home from the library? We’re dying (not exactly) to know!


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Friday Favorites | Annie Bloom’s, an Independent Bookseller

One of my favorite little bookstores in the Portland area is Annie Bloom’s Books. It doesn’t hurt that Annie Bloom’s is nearby in a favorite haunt, Multnomah Village, an eclectic mix of shops, eateries, art and antiques, and coffee.

When Annie Bloom’s opened in 1978, I wonder if they knew the shop would still be going strong 30 plus years later. Of course, there are good reasons for that:

  • An inventory that includes a broad range of new (not used) books in many genre
  • Along with a strong fiction section, there are books for children/young adults, travel, cooking, current events
  • Don’t forget the magazines, CDs and greeting cards
  • A personal favorite of mine is the variety of gifts for book lovers and writers

BUT one reason stands out above all the rest at making Annie Bloom’s popular and long-lasting, and it is the shop’s customer service. Annie Bloom’s excels in providing that extra touch that keeps its patrons happy whether it’s finding a book needed sooner than later, helping with gifts for that special occasion, and gladly taking orders over the phone or online.

For my part, Annie Bloom’s Books is a top-notch independent bookseller. I’m hoping that we’ll both still be around in another 30 plus years.


If you live in the Portland area, you can find directions to Annie Bloom’s Books by clicking this link for a map and directions or if you are too far from Portland, then visit Annie Bloom’s via the website at this link.

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Coming up next: My review of Murder at the Maples (Flora Lively Mysteries) by Joanne Phillips. It was my privilege to be one of Joanne’s beta readers and now her book is available for everyone to read. Can’t wait to share it with you.

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