50 years of bookselling adventures at Moonraker Books | Entertainment

Read Neighbors

LANGLEY, Island County – Whidbey Island has always been a favorite getaway destination for Seattleites in search of a quiet long weekend. But many longtime Whidbey visitors don’t realize just how big Whidbey Island really is. Tourists arriving by ferry from Mukilteo often stay on the south side of the island, near the town of Clinton, while those who drive through Deception Pass are likely to stay north, in the Oak Harbor area.

But it takes more than an hour to drive from one end of Whidbey to the other. The island is huge, and even frequent travelers can find new towns, parks and shops to explore if they allow themselves to get lost.

About 51 years ago, a newlywed couple named Glenn and Josh Hauser got lost in Whidbey hoping to find their next adventure. Glenn is a retired military pilot. “I picked him up at a drive-in restaurant in Corpus Christi, Texas,” Josh laughs. He explained, “We came here with the idea of ​​flipping houses before people flipped houses.”

The pair camped at Deception Pass and headed south, where they found an empty store in the small town of Langley, near the center of the island. “We had no experience with books, but we decided that what we liked was reading,” Josh said, and they decided to try selling books.

For their research, the couple interviewed the late owner of the Village University bookstore Kay’s Bookmark and several other book industry professionals. Glenn set up the equipment and the couple got to work decorating and filling the shelves with books. He decided to name the store Moonraker Books (after the tall sails of a large sailboat, not a James Bond novel) and on June 16, 1972, he impulsively decided to open the doors and open the doors. “And the rest is just the best adventure imaginable,” Josh said.

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Moonraker Books is one of the longest-running bookstores in the state of Washington, and the appeal is obvious: It is bright, beautiful, well-defined space on the main drag of Langley, a charming city that has essentially grown up around the bookstore in it. center.

It didn’t take long for Josh to realize that selling books is less about books and more about building community. “People who like books are usually interesting people,” he said. “And people not only like to be around books, they like to be around book people.”

The Hausers ran the store together until Glenn’s death in 2012. “I wish I could call him back from the dead to fix some things in the store,” Josh says, “but he’s just been uncooperative.”

Josh still holds court behind the Moonraker counter, flirting, joking, gossiping and urging new people to make sure they check out the enormous second floor of the store, with its expansive fiction and children’s section. The playful display there collects various books about “Women We Wish We Met – Some Real, Some Fictional” and Paris-set “Books for the Wannabe Francophiles.” Locals and returning tourists alike visit to check out the latest releases and get recommendations from the store’s five-person staff.

“It’s a very pleasant place. This is not a quiet bookstore,” Josh explained. “We don’t speak in whispers.” That’s right: Moonraker is not a hushed cathedral for literature. Laughter and conversation echo throughout the store. Strangers enter spontaneous discussions about cookbooks on display, sharing recipes and stories.

Fifty years of bookselling is a rare achievement, and Josh has been recognized repeatedly for his contributions to Langley and bookselling this year. Langley’s Mayor and City Council have officially designated June as Josh Hauser Appreciation Month, with a big party and town celebration of Josh and the bookstore.

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And this month, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation presented Josh with its first Heritage on Main Street Award. Washington Main Street Executive Director Breanne Durham credits Josh as “a welcome wagon, a small business mentor, a fun guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously.”

Josh “has built a spontaneous social group to work together with other merchants, for the purpose of welcoming new people to the city, and probably also just for fun,” Durham said in his award speech.

For his part, Josh credits the people of Langley for Moonraker’s success. “I can’t live without the locals,” he said. “They take the time to buy from me instead of from the big box or from other people.”

Josh said the how-to section, with books on woodworking and other crafts, has shrunk over the last decade, but he has been pleased to see that the demand for cookbooks has increased over the same period. He said Whidbey authors including poet David Whyte often stop by. The store makes a point of carrying a large selection of local authors, some of which are on the subject of an entry-level geological guide to odes to the art of walking.

Ask Josh about his favorite memory of half a century of bookselling and his voice warms. He said now he can appreciate the humor behind the dubious difference that Moonraker was the first shoplifter before the store even opened, when a woman with a backpack wandered and helped herself while he and Glenn were busy building a place out. He remembers the “Harry Potter” midnight release party, and the Halloween celebration at the store. He loves that the children he once helped choose books now bring their children and grandchildren back to Moonraker for their first book.

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“I’ve had so many good times,” she said. “Some funny, some tender – you know how. I’m crying more and more thinking about it, honey.”

What are Moonraker Books customers reading?

Unlike most independent bookstores, which typically buy books for one or two staff members, each bookseller at Moonraker Books buys stock for the store, giving pride of ownership that shows in the store’s curation.

All five booksellers at Moonraker came together to make recommendations as a team via email, starting with “two essential guides to Whidbey” that highlight Island County’s “history, geology, sustainability and fun”: “Hiking Close to Home: Whidbey, Hidalgo, and Guemes Islands” by Maribeth Crandall and Jack Hartt and “Capturing the Water’s Edge on the Whidbey & Camano Islands.”

Whidbey poetry lovers have been raving over “Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems,” and booksellers say “the entire collection by the revered Whidbey poet David Whyte or Judith Adams” is a perennial bestseller.

Books about books are top sellers at Moonraker, with Grant Snider’s book cartoon collection, “I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf,” proving to be “the perfect gift for bookworms of all ages.” Current events are also in demand, and staff say Nina Totenberg’s memoir “Dinners With Ruth,” has proven “a must-read for RBG fans and anyone who enjoys Totenberg’s coverage of the Supreme Court.”

Finally, the staff lovingly notes that Moonraker owner Josh Hauser has had Gerald Durrell’s memoir of his 1956 life in Corfu, “My Family and Other Animals,” as a selection “on his staff selection shelves for as long as anyone can remember.” To order and other titles, customers should visit the Moonraker’s Bookshop page or call the store at 360-221-6962.


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