March 06, 2017

The Milo Debate

A Breitbart News editor, Milo Yiannopoulos, was permanently banned from Twitter last year for “inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse of others.” This extreme step was taken after he made unprovoked racist slurs against Leslie Jones, one of the stars on the new Ghostbuster’s film, and encouraged others to harass her as well. In addition to a number of other highly offensive remarks, Yiannopoulos crossed the line from free speech to hate speech, when he gave a speech on a college campus targeting a transgender student.

In the midst of this controversy, Simon & Schuster, one of our biggest publishers, gave  Yiannopoulos a $250,000 advance in a book deal for his autobiography Dangerous. After inking this book deal, Simon & Schuster came under fire for helping to spread offensive and hateful material. Simon & Schuster maintained it was not signaling agreement with his views but rather exercising its free speech rights.

We champion any publisher’s (and bookseller’s) free speech right to sell any books—even ones that offend basic standards of decency. We will not self-censor constitutionally protected material. Our customers have the right to decide what to read. However, we believe Simon & Schuster’s free speech argument is disingenuous. Instead, the question is whether it has any standards below which it will not promote a work through the use of its powerful publishing franchise. Everyone has a right to freedom of speech, but everyone does not have a right to a platform for that speech, particularly when it is intended to cause harm. Simon & Schuster gave Milo that platform.

After looking closely at the public statements of Yiannopoulos, we concluded that Simon & Schuster was grossly irresponsible. We confronted Simon & Schuster, suggesting it cancel this book deal. It refused, citing its free speech rights which it in effect equated hate speech with free speech.
Our tipping point was the December 13, 2016, speech made by Yiannopoulos to students at the University of Wisconsin. He presented a picture of a transgender student onscreen who had transitioned to a female, named her, and in commenting on the picture, made remarks that were deeply offensive to this private individual, and which targeted her for intense harassment. The student ultimately left the university as a direct result of this harassment.

Referring to this quote, we asked Simon & Schuster whether, in making a decision to publish any given book, it considers the extent to which the author has previously crossed a line of basic human decency. It refused to answer our question, saying that its decision-making process was confidential. We disagreed, saying that it’s decision-making process is very public since it stands by its decision to publish this author, knowing of this hate speech statement that could have no purpose beyond humiliating a private person. We received no response to that observation.

A few days later, a video clip was discovered in which Yiannopoulos said, “…some sexual relationships between 13-year-old boys and adult men and woman are perfectly consensual.” Finally, Simon & Schuster took the action to cancel the book deal. Pedophilia, not hate speech, was where it drew the line.

It probably also had something to do with independent bookstore protests across the country, the Chicago Review of Books decision that it will not review any Simon & Schuster published books for a year, Roxanne Gays’ decision to cancel her book deal, and MobyLives’s well regarded blog.
We think it important that our customers know this story in deciding whether to purchase Simon & Schuster published books. Its authors who are blameless will be affected by a boycott, yet they ultimately are the ones with the most power to force their publisher to eschew authors who promote hate speech. To do what we can to assure Simon & Schuster gets our message concerning hate speech, we will not buy any books from its imprint, Threshold Editions, the imprint under which Yiannopoulos’ book was to be published. We will continue to carry Simon & Schuster books (and will special order Threshold Edition works at your request) since this balancing decision must be yours.

December 05, 2016

Community Conversations: Racism

The new owners and staff of Eagle Harbor Book Company are dedicated to providing a space for people on the island to discuss issues of critical importance. 

This Thursday (12/8) we'll be hosting a round-table discussion surrounding the issue of race - a topic that should be as important to us locally as it is throughout the country.  While this discussion springs from the Chase Bank incident on Halloween, our goal is broader.  We hope to start a conversation both about racism on the island, and what our community can do moving forward to address the problem.  If we can honestly address this issue and contribute to developing solutions, a longer-term result is likely to encourage diversity on the island.

We hope to hear stories from participants of how racism has touched our lives.  One of our owners, Dave Danielson, was involved in a similar conversation while working with an NGO tackling the post-apartheid problems of racism in Cape Town last year, and the stories helped those in attendance understand the depth and complexity of how race affects all of us.  We will also discuss starting a Bainbridge working group to discuss both race and diversity and consider a range of options for going forward. 

We will meet at 7 pm, and all are welcome to attend.  For those who come late, the side door on the board walk will be open.

April 27, 2016

#SEAbookstoreday: A Team Sport!

Here's a thought: Wouldn't it be fun to spend a day meandering in bookstores? Not just one, but multiple?  Savor the differences -- an amazing cookbook section here, a riotously fun children's nook there! Talk to a wide variety of booksellers, each with his/her/their own spin on what you could be reading! Observe people falling in love with a new --or old -- title?

Fortunately in the greater Kitsap/Seattle area, you can do just that!  We have a remarkably vibrant and lively bookstore scene -- one of the healthiest in the nation.

And this Saturday, April 30,  you have a unique opportunity to visit more than 15 bookstores, and find prizes, discounts, and fun events at each! It's Independent Bookstore Day, Seattle-style: #SEAbookstoreday.

Last year teams showed up early for a running start!

Our advice? Get a team together. Plan to take the whole day. Start early. We will open our doors at 8:30am to anyone who is hoping to get to all the bookstores on the passport that we will have ready. A lot of Seattle folks take an early ferry to get over here, and tick both EHBC and Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo before heading to the Kingston ferry to Edmonds to pick up the trail of Seattle-side stores.

The parents of author Bruce Barcott won our first Literary Cupcake Walk!

If you make it to just three or more stores, turn in your passport at your last stop, and you'll be entered in a drawing for lots of fun prizes, including signed first edition books and gift cards. Visit all 17 of the participating stores (some have multiple locations), and you'll earn 25% off your book purchases at all 21 store locations for a year!!!

And even if you just stop into your own local indie, there will be fun, games, prizes, and exclusive #SEAbookstoreday merchandise available only while supplies last. Two of our favorites this year include a comic book done by Seattle artists, and a beautiful metal bookmark of the area, also by a local artist. We also have some of the Neil Gaiman coloring books,  signed copies of Kate DiCamillo's Raymie Nightingale,  and  much more!

Family fun! Visit bookstores with your kids!

Our regular customers enjoyed the treats, too!

We think you'll love the diversity of bookstores in our area, and the distinct flavor each brings to the scene. Bookstores are NOT a dying breed, and Independent Bookstore Day is a day to celebrate the community that we have all built together with you! We love having the opportunity to thank all the wonderful customers who come through our doors each year.

Want to learn more about IDB/#SEAbookstoreday? Just click here!

February 14, 2016

Books and Botanicals @ Eagle Harbor Books

Flying Bird Botanicals 

I was out on the floor the other day when our display designer, Charysse, was putting the finishing touches on this gorgeous Flying Bird Botanicals Tea vignette.  I immediately started to yearn for a big comfy chair to spend the afternoon in, wrapped up, warm, and reading.

Flying Bird Botanicals @ Eagle Harbor Book Co.
It’s February, Valentine’s Day, on the Puget Sound: the sky is lighter earlier and stays lighter longer every day – and this far north, that is a balm to our souls.  The daphne is blooming, the crocuses (crocii? Crocusi?) are up, the tulips are starting to break ground, but it is still sweater and boot weather.  A sighting of Rainier over the ferry’s port side is fleeting but it’s there, pink in the sunrise. It’s wet, it’s cold, and a hot drink is always welcome. 
And aren’t these teas pretty? They’re from Bellingham and are organic, ethically wildcrafted, and support local farmers.  It’s nice to know that a little well-earned break in the day is a good thing for a lot of different people and reasons! 

And with any good cup of tea (and we have some really cool cups from which to drink that tea) you need a good book: one of my recent favorites, perfect for this time of year, is The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald.  

Sara (a young woman from Sweden) and Amy (an old woman from Iowa) are pen pals and Sara is invited to come visit Broken Wheel for the holidays.  Unfortunately, Amy dies while Sara is on her way.  Having nowhere to go, the citizens of Broken Wheel insist she stay and live in Amy’s house for the remainder of her visit.  How were they to know she’d start a bookstore, or bring people together over books, or fall in love? TROBWR is a fun, sweet story of lives changed by books.  It is a wonderful story to share and is chockfull of great bookgroup ideas.  

We have a limited number of free bookmarks for TROBWR available.  They have a long list of each title mentioned in the book on the back. You may need a magnifier to read it, though - it’s a lot of titles!  (Sourcebooks. $16.99)

Oh, and by the way, this book and these teas would make a lovely Valentine's Day or birthday gift for a friend! And we wrap for free!
(Photo by Charysse Reaser) 

February 09, 2016

TAB at the Book Store: YA Books, Authors, Fun!

Recently at the store, insightful and passionate new voices have emerged from a group of local teen bibliophiles who meet here once a month.

Fueled by our Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) of pre-publication titles, our TAB (Teen Advisory Board) members not only talk about their responses to YA books, they also write recommendations like the many you see by our booksellers. We’re proud of this exceptional group! Often the meetings are simply a chance to talk about books they are reading. We sometimes feel like flies on the wall, as they banter back and forth about everything from what kind of book cover art they DON'T like, why they don't want romance all the time, to when a character's voice sounds authentic. There is always a lot of enthusiasm at the end when they get to pick out newly available titles. 

Their reviews are well-written and insightful.  We share them with authors, and often get wonderful notes back. We put the reviews on the book shelves in the YA section, and will soon be using them in our quarterly print newsletter.

Sometimes visiting authors get together with our TAB! We recently hosted Seattle author Jennifer Longo for the debut of her latest, Up to this Pointe. And, above, our teens got to have an amazing talk with Nashville's Jeff Zentner about his upcoming book The Serpent King.

We learn a lot from our TAB members, and they are shaping the way we buy and market books for our YA readers!

Are you a teen interested in joining? Call us, or drop by the store for an application!

And thanks to TAB member Finn T. for the great pictures!