Pacific Northwest Reader Features Booksellers' Essays

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HarperCollins Vice President for Independent Retailing Carl Lennertz has pulled together a second collection of regional essays inspired by State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America (edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey, Ecco). Booksellers and librarians from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska contributed to the Pacific Northwest Reader, which is available now. The first regional collection, the Great Lakes Reader, was published last year.

Lennertz, who oversaw the project, had enthusiastic praise for the many people who volunteered their services to produce the book. Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Executive Director Thom Chambliss "helped round up some contributors," he said, "and Brian Jungeman wrote the state facts and trivia that leads off each section."

Delphinium Books, a small press distributed by HarperCollins, covered the printing costs. Delphinium is best known for Joseph Caldwell's The Pig Did It series, which has appeared on several Indie Next Lists. "I won't shut up about it until more stores get on the pig bandwagon," Lennertz said.

The Pacific Northwest Reader, which is distributed by Partners West, is also a fundraiser for the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE). HarperCollins is contributing $1 for each copy sold to ABFFE.

The 16 contributors shared stories from a wide range of backgrounds, locations, and experiences. Gigi Little, a bookseller at Powell's in Portland, Oregon, said her essay "started out as a fun project and turned into an act of honoring: honoring this place, honoring how I got here, honoring the man I came here for, and finally, honoring libraries and independent bookstores, especially the one that has become as much my home as Portland has."

Other booksellers, and former booksellers, contributing to the collection are Annie Tupek, of Gulliver's Books in Fairbanks, Alaska; John Libal, formerly of Title Wave Books in Anchorage, which is still managed by his wife, Angela; Marcia Vanderford, of Vanderford's Books & Office Products in Sandpoint, Idaho; Judi Lohrey Wutzke, of …and BOOKS, too! in Lewiston, Idaho; Ann Combs, of Eagle Harbor Book Company, on Bainbridge Island, Washington; April Nabholz of Grass Roots Books and Music in Corvallis, Oregon; Susan Scott, of The Secret Garden Bookshop in Seattle; Matthew Simmons, of University Book Store in Seattle; Rem Ryals and Sarah Hutton, both of Village Books in Bellingham, Washington, and David K. Wheeler, formerly of Village Books; and Colin Rea, a former bookseller and PNBA board member.

Lennertz is working on similar readers for other parts of the country, and he encourages booksellers and librarians interested in contributing to contact him for more information. "I'd like to do the South next," he said. --Sarah Rettger