In the late afternoon, I visited Eclipse Bookstore, which is in the Fairhaven district of Bellingham, Washington. This box of a store is well lit with a spread of large windows across its front and an equal spread of windows across the back. The back windows provide a broad view of Bellingham Bay. This afternoon both sailboats and yellow crinkles of reflected light stood on the water.
A woman flipped through a box of one dollar books that sat outside the store. Inside, old dub reggae played, setting a languorous mood for book-looking. The few shoppers moved slowly along the shelves. A man sat reading in an armchair aimed at the bay and the afternoon light.
I like a bookstore in which one can comfortably maneuver. The high shelves in Eclipse were well spaced, and I could easily bend or squat to see the volumes on the lowest shelves without bumping a shelf behind me or knocking over a pile of books. And there were piles of books. What respectable used bookstore wouldn’t have piles of books? The piles in Eclipse seemed steadier than those I’ve seen in some places. I thought about Eclipse’s book piles as architectural elements, like columns along a stoa, rather than disheveled backlog long waiting to be shelved. In the art section, I rifled piles, finding the first volume of Hilary Spurling’s biography of Matisse (which I bought) and a biography of Whistler, which I decided not to buy.
Eclipse had clean, well kept books. It had an excellent selection of modern and contemporary novelists. Eclipse is neither a place of dusty old volumes nor antiquarian jewels. The jewels in Eclipse were mostly made recently. Among the older volumes I examined was a hardbound copy of William O. Douglas’s My Wilderness, which I was tempted to purchase but didn’t.
I would like to have purchased several things. I leafed through books that have been on my mental list of possible buys, but most I replaced on the shelf, tempering my acquisitiveness. I had only a short stack when I went out the door of this lovely store.
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[I’ve begun to collect bookstores (at least in a series of snapshots), and this post initiates my catalogue of the collection.]