Unlike most places in our modern world, Downtown Poulsbo, Washington, promotes the long lost art of window-shopping, perambulating, and just slowing down in general, by being pedestrian friendly. The slower pace, beautiful marina, and historic buildings are home to dozens of artisans, boutiques, and antique stores, all within the 3-block area that comprises the historic area. As a result, like many people, I found Liberty Bay Books, entirely by accident. But what a happy accident it was.
Liberty Bay Books is one of those wonderful, and all too rare, little treasures: a local independent bookshop. Like any good bookshop, or library for that matter, the store is simply bursting at the seams with amazing selections. Yet, despite its small size, it manages to feel larger than it actually is. I have never figured out if this is a result of brilliant organization and presentation, or simply because their selection of books is so wonderful that one simply forgets about everything else. My guess though, is that it is probably a little bit of both.
The storefront makes the most of its tiny space by using shorter cases towards the front and center, and putting taller cases around the perimeter, all while managing to maintain a personal, homey feel. Books are aggregated, by subject, into small nooks and niches, which creates a cozy feeling while simultaneously putting hundreds of different titles within arms reach.
Likewise, the selection is stellar. Whoever is responsible for stocking this store, is a genius. There is always, a diverse selection of new fiction, local history, and fantastic children’s books along side a solid collection modern classics and traditional literature.
And if you are in a hurry, or just don’t know what you want, the staff are amazing at pointing you in the direction of your next favorite. Near the front of the store there is a rather sizable display of staff recommendations, which are, in my opinion, quite excellent. Over the years, I have been pleased to see a number of my favorites displayed here, and have never been unhappy with the new titles I have sampled from them either.
With a regular calendar of book clubs, readings, and signings there is always something going on. And even when there isn’t, there is always coffee and a collection of comfy chairs available. I never manage to leave this store without something, and more often than not, that something is signed by the author.