It’s a bookstore. With an espresso bar. And it’s on an island! For a midwestern girl like me, anything “on an island” is automatically cool. Lucky for me, the events director of Anchor Books and Coffee, Alex, had time to answer a few questions. The store is on twitter and facebook too!
Q. Hi Alex, thanks for joining us! Can you tell us a bit about the history of Anchor Books?
A. Anchor Books and Coffee opened just over two years ago. It’s in the small town of Clinton on Whidbey Island in Washington State. The owners, Bruce and Trish Didier, had gone to a book exchange while on vacation and really liked the idea. At first it was just a pipe dream, but as time passed they decided that it was actually something they would like to do, something the community needed
Q. Are there any types of books or genres that the bookstore specializes in?
A. Used books are the only books we carry. Besides the few local authors who sell on consignment, every book on our shelves is there because of donation. We give book credit to those who bring books in and then customers can use that credit to pay for 50% of any book purchase. Seeing as all our books are used and so between 50% and 70% off to begin with, it is easy for someone to get four or five books for under $10 if they have trade credit.
Q. The store is located on Whidbey Island, near Everett Washington. I don’t think I know anyone who works on an island! How do people get to you? Is the island fairly rural, or are you just another suburb of Everett?
A. That question makes me smile. Often times people imagine Whidbey Island as a sandbar with a palm tree on it. I can assure you this is not the case. We are much more rural than Everett and like it that way. There are a lot of farmers and artists on the south end of Whidbey. There is also a huge community of writers, which shows on our consignment shelf, we have over 80 local authors who sell through us. Getting to our shop is very easy. Once off the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry we are directly up the road on the left, 9289 hwy 525, Clinton, WA, 98236.
Q. Beyond books, Anchor Books and Coffee is also a source for locally produced baked goods, ice cream, and coffee. What’s your favorite snack from the snack bar?
A. One of the owners does most of the baking, and in my humble opinion, it’s all about her brownies. They are so rich, and coupled with an Americano they are to die for. Many of our regular customers are more for the bacon-cheddar muffins, or cinnamon pull aparts (a cinnamon roll, but not a roll).
Q. You’re the Events Coordinator at Anchor Books and Coffee, can you tell us a little about what that position entails? Why is it important for a bookstore to have Events, and to have an on-staff events coordinator?A. That’s right, I am the Events Coordinator, but I’m also a barista. We are a very small business. I’m only one of three employees. I’m the Events Coordinator because I asked Bruce and Trish if we could have events, as I am also a local author on Whidbey (can’t quite the day job yet), and thought it would be a great way for the shop to interact with the writing community here. We typically host one reading/book signing every month. Sometimes more, but seldom. Next month we’re branching out and hosting a poetry slam as well, which we’ve done before, but want to make it a more common occurrence.
As for what my job as the Events Coordinator entails: I contact writers and invite them to present. People want to share their work with others so it’s actually quite simple to find people. Anchor Books and Coffee collaborates with the Clinton Library for these events and so they make all the posters. I just drive around once a month and post them anywhere I can.
Q. Any upcoming or past events you worked on that you’re most proud of?
A. I’m currently working on my MFA in Creative Writing. This winter we will host some of my classmates from The Northwest Institute of Literary Arts
(NILA), something I’m very excited about. The course itself is amazing, and the writers it produces are quite extraordinary. As NILA calls South Whidbey Island home, I see this as a fantastic opportunity for the general populace to see what this MFA program is all about. Again, another way of engaging the community. Q. What’s your favorite thing about being in the bookselling industry?
A. Books, of course. Since we’re a used bookstore and don’t order books, my favorite part of the job is looking through a big box of books that has just been donated, never knowing what you’re going to find is sort of like Christmas for me, but it happens nearly everyday. Finding that one book I’ve been waiting for, Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson, or a tattered copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is always so rewarding. We have a staff picks shelf and I’m always trying to update my little section of it. I also love the way books smell.