For 36 years, tucked away in the historical part of town, walking into Village Books is like walking into a haven for book lovers and members alike. The bookstore, located in Fairhaven, has been named to the shortlist for the 2016 Publishers Weekly’s Bookstore of the Year Award.
The shortlist includes four other bookstores from across the country, ranging from Houston, Texas to Brooklyn, New York. The awards are created to feature singular achievements in the book industry, according to Publisher Weekly’s website.
“We’re very pleased and very humbled,” said co-founder and owner of Village Books, Chuck Robinson. “Just to be considered amongst that company is a big honor.”
This is the second year in a row Village Books has been nominated for the prestigious Publisher’s Weekly award. In addition to this, they were named Outstanding Philanthropic Small Business in Washington state in 2008, as well as being nominated for several other awards in the past couple of years.
Bookseller and assistant buyer for gifts at Paper Dreams, Hayden Winn said being on the shortlist is exciting.
“I know the staff puts in so much love and work into this store,” Winn said.
She said Village Books allows for people to come together for a love of literature and support literary diversity.
“For students, it allows them to step outside the campus and still get that discussion on the challenging aspects of literature like cultural criticism and representation in literature,” Winn said.
The bookstore plays an active role in the community through their support of local authors. Village Books also hosts local writers and writing programs. Robinson is on the Whatcom Community Foundation board, and just finished his second term on the Whatcom Community College Board of Trustees. Additionally, he is a founding member of the Bellingham City Club and Sustainable Connections.
“This is where we live. We try to do as much as we can to make it a better place for everybody to live,” Robinson said.
The store celebrates major events in the literary world by celebrating banned books week, for example.
“What we hope that event has done on a consistent basis is remind people that people are offended by all sorts of things but that doesn’t mean that those things should be banned,” Robinson said.
Joan Terselich, bookseller and buyer at Village books, said she thinks the store creates positive interactions between both friends and strangers. Terselich has worked with Village Books for approximately 19 years now.
“It’s quite an honor and I think it’s well-deserved. We have a good reputation around the country,” Terselich said of the award nomination.
Village Books in Fairhaven has been around for over 35 years. A second location was opened in 2015 in Lynden, Washington.
Village Books has been housed in its current location since 2005. Inside the brick building are three levels of books, complete with a balcony overlooking the second floor and wooden floors throughout.
In addition, the store works closely with neighboring business, Paper Dreams and Colophon Cafe.
“We hope that it’s a welcoming place, that it feels comfortable and warm and is a place where you would want to spend some time,” Robinson said.
Tricia Kelly, from California, appreciates the value the store puts on reading and comfort.
“It’s a place of education and I know that they have various clubs and groups that meet here. I think that helps the community a great deal,” Kelly said.
The store will be submitting something akin to an online portfolio to Publishers Weekly highlighting their work and successes over the past year. The winner of the award will then be selected in late March. Following that, in early April, an issue of Publishers Weekly will focus on the winning bookstore. They will also be at Book Expo America in Chicago, May 11-13.