A Bigger Bookstore Isnít Necessarily a Better Bookstore

The Seattle Post-Intellegencer newspaper's book blog, "Book Patrol: A Haven for Book Culture" recently reported on a CBS Seattle News report about Seattle's Best Independent Bookshops. The CBS story begins: "A bigger book isn’t necessarily a better book — and so too a bigger bookstore isn’t necessarily a better bookstore. While Barnes & Noble, Borders and online retailers may have thousands of copies for that latest best seller, Seattle also is home to many smaller independent shops which cater to readers with finer tastes. Besides Elliott Bay, there’s also the Seattle Mystery Bookshop, Left Bank Books, Wessel & Lieberman and others putting a unique stamp on Seattle’s reading scene." See the entire article here: http://seattle.cbslocal.com/top-lists/best-independent-bookshops-in-seattle. And the Book Patrol blog comments: "Beside the shops mentioned above, Third Place Books, East West Bookshop and Queen Anne Books round out the list."

"While we are delighted to have made the cut I thought it worth mentioning a few others that also help put a 'a unique stamp on Seattle’s reading scene.'"

"Seattle, a perennial contender for America's most literate city, has not been immune to the wave of change that has swept over the bookselling world. We have lost plenty of quality bookshops over the last few years - Bailey Coy, M. Coy Books, Square One Books to name a few- and many that still exist continue to struggle to stay relevant and profitable. But as for bookselling in Seattle, with all due respect to Mr. Sinatra, If you can make it anywhere, you can make it here. It's up to you Seattle, it's up to you!"

  • Pilot Books- whose tag line is "100% indie Lit"

  • Fantagraphics Bookstore- the center of the comic and graphic novel universe

  • Seaocean Book Berth - As the name implies this one is for the mariner in you

  • Mercer Street Books - a perfect neighborhood used bookstore located at the bottom of Queen Anne

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Indie Groundbreaking Publisher

Coffeetown Press

A Feisty Little Seattle Publisher with a Mission

One of the bright spots shining through the cloudy Seattle skyline is Coffeetown Press, a five-year old independent that’s published an eclectic catalog of titles so far. The press is the trade publishing arm of Seattle-based Coffeetown Enterprises, originally founded to publish a few academic titles. So far, Coffeetown Press has published a mix of nonfiction, memoir, and literary fiction, and genre fiction through their Camel Press imprint.

A new spring release, TORN: True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood, is getting lots of buzz, especially in light of the recent furor over Amy Chua’s “Tiger Mother” book and Ayelet Waldman’s “Bad Mother” essays. “Up until now Coffeetown and Camel have released all of our titles as print-on-demand and ebooks,” says publisher Catherine Treadgold. “TORN is our first print run and is being distributed by another Seattle company, Epicenter/Aftershocks Media.

Treadgold, who took over as publisher in April 2010, says more print runs are in the works. “Seattle is a wonderful place to run a publishing company because of the rich writing tradition that exists in this area,” says Treadgold. “I recently attended a meeting of one of the oldest organizations in the Northwest, Seattle Freelancers, which has been around for 89 years. We are also extremely fortunate that the West still has so many vital independent bookstores.” Treadgold is quite new to the publishing business but not new to books and literature. “I graduated cum laude from Princeton University with a bachelor’s degree in German Literature, but at that time my true ambition was to be a classical singer. After college I moved to New York, where I sang with amateur opera companies and worked at Newsweek. I moved back to Seattle to get my master’s degree in Vocal performance. After teaching and performing locally for several years, five of them at Shoreline Community College, I got my certificate from the University of Washington in technical writing and editing and eventually was hired by Coffeetown Press. It was the Princeton connection that brought TORN’s editor,

Samantha Parent Walravens, to Coffeetown, as she is also a Princeton grad. “Samantha herself is a mother of four, and at one point she was also trying to climb the corporate ladder. She has definitely struck a chord with this book; in our go-go society, the responsibilities that women are expected to take on have become more and more onerous. Finding the right balance between career and motherhood is one of the most stressful, heart-wrenching tasks facing women today.”

In TORN, 47 women contribute essays that examine the conflict between the need to nurture and the need to work, and reveal creative solutions for having the best of both worlds. Their stories are remarkably honest, poignant and often hilarious vignettes about the highs and lows of contemporary motherhood, written from the different perspectives of both working and stay-at-home moms. Some of the working moms do so because their finances require it, and some work to preserve their sanity. “What Samantha has accomplished with this book is nothing short of amazing,” says Treadgold. “She has rallied her 47 contributors into a small army, and they are doing author events across the country. Several prominent journalists have read the book and contributed praise.” (Watch the TORN book trailer on YouTube.)

Under Treadgold’s leadership, Coffeetown is rapidly becoming known for richly creative writing. Here’s the tag line for Camel Press, “Your Source for Books Guaranteed to Deliver Thrills and Chills of Every Description.” “Camel Press is a new branch of Coffeetown Press. A feisty little publisher with a mission: to be your trusted purveyor of popular literature — the stuff that makes you lie in the sun too long and read in bed until the cock crows, the urban chickens start clucking, or your neighbor leaves for her 6 am shift. We snap up the good stuff that slips by the big guys, the publishers who are more worried about photogenic authors and the bottom line to care what’s between the pages.”

An upcoming Camel science fiction novel by John Patrick Lowrie, Dancing with Eternity, will go to print in September. Lowrie is well-known voice actor who performs in video games such as The Suffering and Half-Life 2, and played Sherlock Holmes in The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes radio show. Dancing with Eternity is described as "a sprawling galactic odyssey" that asks, "What would happen if Odysseus met Captain Ahab in the 40th Century? Only Captain Ahab is a beautiful woman named Steel who owns her own starship and Odysseus is an unemployed actor named Mohandas who’s stuck on the backside of a backwater moon because he won’t pay his taxes."

“As a former opera singer, I understand what it’s like to live a creative life," says Treadgold. "Since I have always worked hard at my own creative endeavors -- as a singer, writer and editor -- I look for authors with that same work ethic, whether it’s about the writing or the promoting.” You gotta love that kind of attitude, and it's not just because of all that good coffee...Watch for many more great things from Coffeetown!

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Other Coffeetown Press titles of interest:

For Civil War buffs:
The Addiction of Mary Todd Lincoln
by Anne E. Beidler; $15.95; 200 pages; ISBN: 978-1-60381-021-0
Historians have mostly avoided saying very much about Mary Todd Lincoln except in reference to her husband, Abraham. To many it would seem that Mary Todd Lincoln is still an embarrassment in the tragic story of her martyred husband. But Mary Todd Lincoln lived her own tragic story even before Abraham was murdered. She was an addict, addicted to the opiates she needed for her migraine headaches.

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Shorn: Toys to Men
$17.95; 268 pages; ISBN: 978-1-60381-092-0
Author Dennis Milam Bensie chronicles his journey from damaged boy, self-medicating by cutting the hair of shoplifted Barbie dolls, to confused young man, paying hundreds of gay street hustlers to shave their heads. Bensie demonstrates how hair can be currency — a moral gauge for good and bad, male and female, lawful and unlawful.


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