Michael Elmer, the bookseller and proprietor of Michael’s Books, a used book store in Bellingham, Washington, discusses his shop’s 30th anniversary, the bookselling business, and more, with Joseph Planta.
Text of introduction by Joseph Planta:
I am Planta: On the Line, in Vancouver at TheCommentary.ca.
I’m a big fan of bookstores. They’re indispensable in building and cultivating ones collection. In the last year or so, I’ve gone to a number of new and used shops throughout the Pacific Northwest, as well as charity sales in Victoria and in Chilliwack. South of the border in Washington and Oregon are some very fine shops, including Powell’s in Portland, and some terrific ones in Seattle. Good bookshops have more than books. There’s something unique about them. All of them have unique characters running or owning them. All of them have something special about them, that the big box chains don’t have. Used bookstores in particular have a unique feel to them. They’re lovingly stocked and managed, and despite the number of books in stock, the staff will know exactly where to find that book you’re looking for. I have favourites of course, and hopefully as an ongoing series, I’ll be able to profile some on this program. Bellingham, Washington has a number of great new and used shops. My favourite is Michael’s Books located at 109 Grand Avenue in Downtown Bellingham. It’s about 82 kilometres south of Vancouver, or 51 miles. Bellingham is something like 90 miles north of Seattle. Michael himself, Michael Elmer, joins me now. Last weekend, I went down again, and chatted with Mr. Elmer about his store and got to see a lot of his prized books. This month, Michael’s Books celebrates its 30th anniversary, and we’ll mark it now. I’ll ask Mr. Elmer about his shop, what folks can expect when they walk through its doors, as well, we’ll reflect on the challenges of running a business like this in the age of the internet. It’s a charming shop with some 250,000 books in stock. Visit www.michaelsbooks.com. They’re open Tuesday to Saturday, 10.00am to 6.00pm. Please welcome to the Planta: On the Line program, Michael Elmer; Mr. Elmer, good morning.