Monday, September 25, 2023

Tsunami Books - Eugene, OR

Tsunami Books, Eugene, OR

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What are the chances?  I can travel far and wide and still I can stumble onto such coincidental experiences.  One of the booksellers I met here was Steve E., who immediately and without hesitation told me he was from Iowa, grew up in Des Moines, and even attended the University of Iowa for his undergrad degree.  We’d never met but it was already turning into an Iowa reunion.  He even said that Eugene is the Oregon version of Iowa City.  His graduate studies and travels took him throughout Great Britain so we enjoyed a wonderful conversation about bookstores in that part of the world.  Now he’s a bookseller, editor, and budding author with a book already published titled, Mole.  Another segment of the bookstore is their publishing service, Tsunami Press.  Steve has edited two of their publications including a new anthology coming in November and now available for pre-order, Bookstore Clerks and Significant Others.  This sounds like a great anthology for bookstore enthusiasts.  Readers, why oh why would anyone want to order a book from a discount website when you can have fun like this at an independent bookstore!

You know they’re doing something right since Tsunami Books has been open for almost 28 years.  The store doesn’t look extraordinary from the outside but when you enter it opens up into two large rooms.  Tsunami is packed with new and used books and as Laura told me, you won’t pick up a dusty book smell in here because they wipe down all the used books that come in.  Customers can receive cash or trade for the books they bring in.  Online sales are a daily and important part of their business.  In addition to the new and used books, make sure you ask about their vintage and collectible editions if that is your interest.  There are a few sidelines here including locally created art, pottery, candles, and greeting cards to name a few.  You’ll also find an assortment of music on vinyl.

One of the nice things here are the frequent events, especially live music.  They have a large space that can be cleared and a nice small stage in one corner of the room.  They also welcome creative writing students and their professors from the University of Oregon to do readings.  

Scott L. has been the owner here for many years but he wasn’t in on the day of my visit.  No worries because meeting Steve and bookseller Laura was enjoyable 10-fold.  Wonderful people who were engaging, conversant, and oh so nice.  The perfect recipe for any bookstore and any bookstore visitor.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Paper Lion, George Plimpton.  Arguably, the author's most famous book published in 1966.  Plimpton's own account of what it's like to be an amateur who tries to survive the rigors of pre-season training and the hope of getting in for a few plays with the Detroit Lions.  A great look inside professional football at that time and everything it entails.  A must-read for football fans. This also became a popular movie.  Recommended. 

CURRENTLY READING:  The Stranger Beside Me, Ann Rule. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Small Things Like These, Claire Keegan.  The Night Always Comes, Willy Vlautin. (Read this one a few weeks ago and I thought it was great).  Not purchased but gifted, Mole, Steve Gromert Ellerhoff.  Thanks Steve.  

I love this storefront.  Walk around to the side to enter. 
This is the entrance on the side of the building. 

Just a portion of the beautiful outdoor gardening work that Scott has done.  

In addition to the wonderful landscaping, the exterior also features unique and creative murals. 

Collectors should pay this store a visit. 

View looking into the store from the entrance. 

One of the long book aisles you'll enjoy browsing. 

Looking directly to the left from the entrance. 

New book display with several shelf-talkers indicating staff recommendations. 

After you enter the store, go to the left and you'll enter this room.  You'll enjoy the many posters on the ceiling and throughout the store. 

Used book staff favorites. 

Always one of my favorite pictures but the ceiling posters make this one unique. 

Unbelievably creative.  This seems very fitting for an Oregon bookstore. 

Attractive table display of staff picks. 

An overview of the room to the left after you enter the store. 

Along with the posters you'll enjoy throughout the store you'll also see historic headlines. 

Just a few of the audio books offered. 

Overview of the children's area. 

Little chairs for little readers. 

Many bookstores are like museums where you never know what you'll see and always discovering something new on each visit. 

An overview of the room near the entrance. 

Locally created greeting cards. 

Works of art in a variety of mediums can be seen throughout the store. 

Just some of the music on vinyl offered. 

This corner is where events are staged.

View of the store from the stage.  Authors, this is your view when you talk about your book. 

Read the book in a theater seat. 

See picture below. 

Original works of stoneware pottery.  If you don't want one for yourself it would make a great gift. 

If you're a regular at Tsunami this is a must. 

With Laura in the center and Steve on the right, two of the fine booksellers you'll meet at Tsunami Books.  Thanks for a great visit. 

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Grass Roots Books & Music - Corvallis, OR

Grass Roots Books & Music, Coravallis, OR

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I’ve always said that any town with a major college that doesn’t have an independent bookstore is missing a big piece in their community.  When I drove into downtown Corvallis I could tell immediately that I was in a college town, home of Oregon State University.  Quirky one-of-a-kind shops, 2nd hand stores, bars, cool coffee shops, cafes, and a very hip bookstore.  Husband and wife owners Jack and Sandy must be doing something right because the store has been here since 1971 with a great location in the busy downtown district.  I didn’t get to meet them today so bookseller Frank was my welcoming and knowledgeable Grass Roots tour guide.

This bookstore has two, long adjacent rooms filled with new books and many sidelines.  Most of the books are in the left room and most of the sidelines are in the right room with a little bit of overlap.  You’ll find the children’s area in the right room in the back.  Even though music is in the store name, the advent of streaming slowly changed this part of the business.  My guess is the room on the right housed the music.  Sidelines included a well-stocked inventory of greeting cards, bookstore candles, journals, 2024 calendars, and assorted smaller items unique to independent bookstores.  Their puzzles sell well and were important during the pandemic.  And if you can’t make it to the store, you can go to the website and place an order online, an important part of their business.  The store’s location also benefits when the farmer’s market happens, right behind the store.  

Grass Roots doesn’t host frequent events but will occasionally host visiting authors that come to the university.  I was surprised when Frank told me that the university is not a major part of the customer base.  Instead, many of the regulars are older, some who go back decades to the store’s early years. 

Readers, whenever you visit a college town make sure you ALWAYS find the independent bookstore.  And if that is Corvallis, OR, Grass Roots Books & Music is that place.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  I Must Be Dreaming, Roz Chast.  The New Yorker cartoonist has put out some of my favorite books including this new one.  I love her artwork and her humor and this one shows her wide-variety of dreams in cartoon form.  Also look for her book, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant.  Both are outstanding.  Recommended. 

CURRENTLY READING:  Paper Lion, George Plimpton. 

Beautiful sidewalk banner. 

I love this part of the sign at the top of the store. 

One of the large display windows. 

During the summer season, browsing almost always begins before entering any bookstore. 

Looking into the store from the front entrance. 

This sounds like a great deal to me. 

View looking to the left after entering.

Beautiful display with Ann Patchett's new release, Tom Lake. 

Continuing through toward the back half of the store from the main entrance.  This is still the room on the left. 

View looking into the room on the right. 

This is the front of the room on the right. 

Puzzles are good sellers here and were an important part of the business during the pandemic for many indies. 

The room on the right, looking front to back. 

I find items in bookstores that I never see elsewhere. 

Find this display for some bargains. 

Just a few of the greeting cards available. 

Overview of the children's area, in the right room. 

The only thing missing in this picture is you with your book. 

A helpful direction. 

Display of bestsellers in the Pacific Northwest. 

Selected recommendations from npr. 

Popular bookstore-themed candles available here. 

Uh oh.  Telltale clue that I might be in a college town. 

An assortment of magazines offered. 

Overview of the store looking from the back toward the front entrance. 

A nice view of the front area and Frank waiting to process your purchase. 

With Frank on the left, one of the fine booksellers at Grass Roots Books & Music.  Thanks for a great visit.