December 01, 2017

Image result for writing for pleasure

You can understand how an outfit with a collection topping 25,000 books would be disposed to riff on the subject, especially at a time when you have to come up with a holiday offering for that old uncle who wants for nothing. Worry no more. Our stacks contain books explaining why dirt is good in cooking, help to fix things (an unpleasant goiter?), bring our readers current on the latest thinking on polyvagal theory, or explain the conjugation of 601 Spanish verbs in just 727 pages. 

Many of the rest of us are partial to books written by magicians - those authors that can make an otherwise vanilla word or thought sing. High on everyone’s list of the best non-fiction authors is John McPhee. His latest, Draft No. 4, advances the point. Who would have thought any author could turn casting for shad on the Delaware River into an exquisitely crafted tale? The protagonist in Laurent Binet’s new literary whodunit The Seventh Function of Language asked: “‘What would you do if you ruled the world?’ The gigolo replied that he would abolish all laws. Barthes said: ‘Even grammar?’”

Our amazing collection of local authors would side with Barthes, much to your benefit if you read their work. Lately, two of “ours” are gaining national prominence. With exquisite timing, the Paris Review gave voice to Claire Dederer in her piece, “What do we do with the Art of Monstrous Men?” And coming in April is Jonathan Evison's Lawn Boy, a comic novel of contemporary realism, which, like great journalism, promises to comfort Bainbridge Island's afflicted and afflict Bainbridge Island's comfortable. It depicts a landscaper who dreams of being a great American literary figure — if only he didn't have to cross the "servant's entrance" of the Agate Pass Bridge each day to manicure the lawns of the island's wealthy for minimum wage. With boundless heart and biting wit, Lawn Boy promises to spark some stark conversations about white privilege.

Even though the body of work of Claire and the two Johns is superb, their many books in our bookstore must fight for second place. If any of you have a 3 to 8 year-old in your life, please read B.J. Novak’s The Book with No Pictures to your kiddo. In the reading, don’t be adult about it. The glee you hear from your charge listening to an adult making the strangest sounds and acting like a fool is to be treasured. What you won’t treasure is the insistence that you read it again, again and again. One of my grandkids made a fake dust cover for it to trick me into reading it one more time.

Could it be these authors have more in common than this note of their varied oeuvre suggests? In a November 20, 2017 New Yorker review of Tina Brown’s new memoir, Nathan Heller offers an answer:

Yet Brown rarely tires of writers, which is impressive, because writers, as a tribe, are strange.  They keep odd hours and have weird, often bad ideas.  At gatherings, they tend to skulk or to be over-present, like a recently uncrated Labrador leaping to lick your nose while piddling on your knees.  Hollywood is filled with stories of prima-donna actor tantrums, wild affairs, trashed trailers, and overnight benders.  Rather than erupting in this healthy manner, writers go home and quietly develop suicidal snacking habits, or necessary family troubles, or a rash. 


October 30, 2017

The winter holiday season is sprinting towards us, and though we promise not to put up decorations until Thanksgiving, we thought you’d like a sneak peek at how we can help make the grey days bright!

Our best gift to you this season? Great booksellers and an inventory full of fabulous and diverse books! Start at our staff picks or best sellers, but don’t be shy about approaching a bookseller, the best algorithm you’ll ever meet. Do you have a teen who loves science fiction and fantasy? Ask for Jo. Wonder what to give to a nature lover? Victoria has some ideas. Something for the eager young reader? Alison can walk you around the block in our kids section. Owner Jane Danielson loves to discuss literary fiction. Tim devours history. And John, Ann, Brendie, Caitlin, Andrew, Susan, Rodie, and our newest booksellers, Jim and Rose, all bring something different to the table. Of course we all cross genres, too!

Indies First/Small Business Saturday will take place Nov. 25, and we’ll have authors as booksellers in our store who will knock your socks off with great suggestions. 

We will also have plenty of ways to save this season. When the Pacific Northwest Bookseller Association holiday catalog arrives later this month, you’ll find great book ideas, as well as a way to save 20% percent on an entire purchase. Our store wide Holiday Sale will take place all day December 7. We will continue to offer two Cyber Monday sales in December with 20% off for those who like to shop online — you can pay and have the items shipped, or chose the option to pay and pick up in the store. And this year we will add a Cyber Tuesday on December 26, so you can use those gift cards received during the holidays. 

Don’t forget our annual gift card sale in early December: You can get a $25 gift for for $20, $100 gift card for $80, and a $200 gift card for $150. Dates will be announced later, so watch for news in our eNewsletters, website, and front windows!

We believe in creating community at Eagle Harbor Book Company. We want to talk to you about books, learn from you, and put something in your hands that will continue to give long after the gift wrap is taken off. Come enjoy the holidays with family at your community bookstore.

September 30, 2017

 "It has been said that democracy is the
worst form of government, except all
the others that have been tried."
- Winston 


(Politics seems to be on everyone's mind these days, and we hear many points of view each day here in the bookshop. With Churchill’s comments in mind, we’ve turned this page in our newsletter over to Val Tollefson, our current Mayor, for his reflections on local politics.)

Last year at this time, most of us were deeply engaged with the Presidential campaign. We expected it to be consequential, because we would be electing our first female President. We were right about the consequential part. This year, our City Council election is the main event on the November ballot. It will too will be consequential, and it is past time for Islanders to become equally engaged.

It is the decisions made at the local level that most directly impact our lives. While our City Council election results won’t matter to Kim Jong Un one way or the other, they matter greatly to us. Land use planning, a central City responsibility, impacts our freedom to use and enjoy our own property, our access to clean and plentiful water, and the existence of the non-residential development that is crucial to our ability to enjoy life here. Public health and safety depend on well managed utilities, well maintained public streets and other facilities and on a police department that conducts itself in accordance with our community expectations and standards. Council decisions, and the way the Council goes about making those decisions, will determine whether we get what we demand. 

Through its Comprehensive Plan, the City has pledged to work toward a wide range of lofty goals. The current City Council has taken concrete steps toward ensuring that the City Municipal Code, internal processes and budget decisions advance those goals. It will be incumbent on the next Council to continue this work. How they go about that depends on your vote. Since it really matters, be an informed voter. Do the hard work of attending candidate forums and asking probing questions. 

I’m proud of the progress the City has made over the past four years. When I made the decision to run, my neighbor Chuck said that it was really all about the streets. Turns out, it was streets and much more. Nothing in this life is perfect, of course, but much is very, very good. That goes for our City. Keep it that way.  
And buy books!


August 25, 2017

The Annex is dead; long live the Annex

As to the Used Book Annex, we are either stretching the definition of “metaphor” or at least getting a little carried away in announcing that our used-book space is disappearing downstairs – but only to shape shift upstairs.

We are breaking our stride for this space to focus on a significant change at the bookstore. Throughout September, we will be closing the Annex in its present form down in the nether world, sharpening our focus to assure our used book collection is top-drawer, and integrating it with all of our new books upstairs. We are also opening a new used-book buying, check out and information station. To assure our chance to buy all the quality used books we need, we will be buying used books from our customers virtually all day, every day as of October 1.

This is a return to our roots when our used books had been upstairs. Those of you who have said they can’t tell the difference between the condition of our new and used books will be doubly right going forward since our full-time buying effort will enhance our ability to be very selective. The idea is to offer the same wide selection of new books and increase our collection of quality used books at a much lower price--all in our upstairs space.  

You will be right to think we sound like politicians before election day; promises, promises…  - or as LBJ put it, both guns and butter. Clearly, our shelves will be packed but we think it works. And if we need more space, we have room to expand; and we will. 

One more result is likely; you can expect a bit of chaos during September as we make the transition.  You can also expect to see our booksellers’ hair on fire. They will be the front line soldiers during this period so please keeping pouring through the doors to see if they retain their senses of humor and uncanny ability to find you exactly the book you want.

~ Jane and Dave

July 30, 2017

A Farewell from Emma (Who Will be Back)

The things I want to know are in books; 
my best friend is the man who'll get me a book I ain't read. 

~ Abraham Lincoln

In the shadow of my impending departure to a graduate program in Who Knows Where, Arkansas, I've been skulking around the bookstore imprinting details in my memory. It's difficult to skulk in Eagle Harbor Books, per se, because our century-old wooden floor, when stepped upon in the wrong place, makes noises like a water buffalo giving birth. However, over the agonized creaking, I recently heard a customer on the other side of a shelf say "Oh, I love this bookstore. It always has the weirdest books."
It's true: we do. I've lost count of the times I have grabbed a book to shelve, spotted the title, raised my eyebrows in fascination, and cracked it open to take a look. In my time here, I have amassed a couple shelves' worth of such wonderfully odd titles as When to Rob a BankThe Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and the Feebleminded, and Thug Kitchen.

I was born and raised on Bainbridge, and I didn't realize the extent of our bookstore's glorious weirdness until I left home for college. I found no bookstore in my travels that could really match ours.
Where else could I find a display artist like our own remarkable Charysse, who spent three days crafting the full-sized dress out of book pages, with flounced skirts and a woven bodice, that graced our front window on a mannequin?
Where else could I find coworkers like that dedicated master of impertinence, Ann Combs, who takes significant chunks of time to teach me the lyrics to "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" and other unsavory songs to repeat to my new grad school friends? Not to mention John, who snorts with delight over a good joke, and Susan, who has read approximately every mystery in existence?
Where else could I find someone like Victoria, who single-handedly manages to pull in authors from all over the nation to speak at our little store?
Where else could I find supervisors willing to tolerate me spending seven hours on a whiteboard notice because I wanted to master dry-erase pointillism? Where else can I find a big black dog that lumbers into the bookstore on a near-daily basis, letting out a gleeful urf and stationing herself next to the Dog Treat Jar? Where else can I hear the lovely live strains of Irish folk singing that drift out of Receiving, as if we were haunted by a melodious and otherwise scrupulously polite phantom?
While I know that Arkansas has its charms, it certainly doesn't have Eagle Harbor Books. So do me a favor and love the bookstore for me while I'm gone. If, when I return, I find that Eagle Harbor Books has lost even an iota of its magnificent weirdness, I will be terribly disappointed.
And be sure: I will be back.
Lots of love,

May 29, 2017

 They're changing the guard at  Buckingham Palace

~ Christopher Robin in A.A. Milne's
When We Were Very Young 

Well, they've changed owners at Eagle Harbor Books, and it's been nearly a year with our new owners, Jane and Dave Danielson, in place.  While it's true that no one here has been clicking his heels or wearing a busby, changes have been made, and we who work here are used to changes.  But what about the new owners? 
Jane, one half of the new ownership, is an old hand at things around here, so we don't need to clue her in on the routine.

Dave, however, is new at this bookstore thing and he'll have to be taught about the quirks of bookselling. 

For one thing, he'll need to understand that grandparents are understandably proud of their progeny.  So, no self-respecting grandmother will ever announce "Henrietta reads way below grade level."  In fact, given the chance, as Dave will find out, he'll have a beaming customer should he suggest War and Peace for a ten-year-old.
After he's been here a while, Dave will discover that the ten minutes before closing is a dangerous time.  There's a lot of fine dining available on Winslow Way, and when one is out for an epicurean evening, one's dinner reservations are rarely for 5:30 or 6:00.  Where to pass the time while waiting?  "How about the bookstore? The lights are on there."  We will try and be patient as we teach Dave the gentle art of helping browsers out the door.
Down in the Used Book Annex, Dave will also need to brush up on a couple of things.  First, he'll need to memorize the variation on Murphy's Law which states "Those who are moving, are cleaning out the garage, or are just sick of all the mess in the kid's room will never remember to bring only one bag of used books in to sell."  Dave needs to know it's not nice to sigh or roll one's eyes in such a situation.
In time, we hope to be able to teach Dave all these and numerous other rules.  And then he'll be seasoned and, paraphrasing Christopher Robin, he will say, "A bookstore owner's life is terrible hard."
                                                                                    ~ Ann

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.