We are glad you are here.
It is easy and becoming more common to reflect on the passing of a year with anger and resentment, with nothing to call good but the riddance. This is perhaps not inappropriate given the state of things at large on this old rock. Yet, without naiveté, I am seeking to habituate myself to a different instinct, one of gratitude for the gift of what remains and and hope for the gift yet to come.
It is hard not to be grateful for the year we had in our humble little bookhouse. For starters, we turned a profit! That’s always a good and often a necessary goal for a business, but we have learned not to take it for granted! There were several years during the dark days of the Ought’s, through the rise of Amazon, the proliferation of ebooks and audiobooks, and all the talk about a post-print digital culture that we genuinely questioned whether there was any future in selling used books. There was more than one time when we celebrated a year in the black after a few losing seasons, and the money spent on a celebratory dinner put us back in the red!
Yet as the field of used bookselling changed, we changed with it. We have grown more selective, more nimble, more committed to our focused niche of scholarly books in religion, philosophy, and the humanities. While we still happily place a weekly order for special-ordered new books at a 20% discount, we have chosen to only stock a select few new books in the shop––only the most important new releases and those nearest and dearest to our hearts that we can’t seem to keep stocked with used copies. Instead, we have doubled down on what we know how to do best: going out and doing the work of procuring large lots of high quality, hard-to-find used books and selling them at attractive prices. We have consistently provided catalogs of carefully selected scholarly books and bays of bookcases loaded with excellent but more common books at $5 each. In short, we are aiming to make ourselves a valued resource for book lovers building libraries.
Regardless of our efforts, though, it would have been impossible for us to have survived these precarious years without the continued loyalty, support, and goodwill of all of you have provided. To be honest, there are easier and more reliable ways of making a living. We continue to do this work because we are passionate about books, but equally because of the rich source of life that streams through our doors everyday in you hopeless bibliophiles we call “friends.” Thank you for making it possible for us to live our dream. We are not the only ones who had a good year. Independent booksellers in America have had a string of good years, and it seems the news of our demise may have been somewhat premature.
One way in which we are supported by our friends is through word-of-mouth recommendations to those looking to part with or downsize their libraries. We have had the great fortune of purchasing books from a number of great scholars who were downsizing this year, in addition to creaming the crop of a few great institutional libraries. We are honored to see our shelves entrusted with the best stock we have ever had. I’m delighted to say as well that in a few weeks I will be heading down to Los Angeles to purchase what may be the finest collection of books we have ever dealt––a 14,000 book library that was very carefully curated with fine hardcovers of the best books in philosophy, theology, American religious history, and the humanities, seeded with loads of first editions, signed copies, and fine press editions. I am excited to share more with you as we process this collection!
A few highlights from the year:
– We made our pricing shed “safe for books” with drywall and heat!
– We installed a new forced-air HVAC system, replacing a system with a gas shop heater and wall-AC that worked fine when the shop was a grocery store but was woefully inadequate to the task of climatizing a shop full of floor-to-ceiling bookcases.
– We stumbled into 20 beautiful birch-wood bookcases that we used to finish out our front room and add a center aisle of additional $5 books.
– We shipped out 16,000 books from a book dealer in Virginia, had nowhere to put them, so we bought a shipping container. It is a lovely shade of gray and really ties the back yard together!
– We held a massive weekend sidewalk sale in July, saving thousands of books from the pulper and giving them happy homes $1-2 each and eventually pushing them on folks at $5/bag!
– We greatly expanded our book-nook up at Cathedral Coffee in Scappoose!
– We had a lovely cookout and poetry reading with our friend and officemate Karl Koppock!
– We were treated to a beautiful solo guitar show by Sam Rocha.
– We welcomed the publication of some truly wonderful books. I thought 2017 was an amazing year, but I think 2018 might have been my favorite year on record. I am truly in awe of the wonderful and brilliant people blessing us with such amazing books. I am truly thankful.
We are looking forward to another great year buying and selling great used books from and for all of you. As a token of our gratitude, and your reward for reading this far, we welcome you to take 30% off any book in stock!
Oh, one more thing! Telly the Book Cat has been a sweet companion for the past 6 months here, but he needs to move on to a new home, as the bookshop is not a permanent solution for various reasons. If you or anyone you know might be interested in adopting him, please reach out!