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Mike Elmer’s Frey

from The Bellingham Herald

Bellingham bookstore increases its online sales

ANNA WALTERS / THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

In a business landscape marred lately by empty storefronts and layoffs, one Bellingham bookstore has managed to beat the economic blues by increasing its online inventory and sales. Michael’s Books, located on Grand Avenue downtown, reported 43 percent year-over-year growth in its online sales in 2008 – a feat owner Michael Elmer credits largely to upping the number of books available on the store’s Web site and signing on with Amazon.com in December 2007.

Today, the store’s online catalog has about 10,000 books.

Elmer has been working in bookstores since his teens. He even did a four-year stint at one of the biggest bookstores in the nation, Powell’s Books, which now takes up an entire city block in Portland, Ore.

Elmer’s store, which has been a fixture in Bellingham for about 25 years, has about 250,000 books lining its shelves. Elmer said the business of book selling brings him in contact with interesting people and amazing books.


“I never know what the next person in will want or will have and it’s always exciting,” he said. “There are so many books. I can never see them all.”

Elmer is a collector himself and keeps his own rare hoard in a shelved nook inside the store, equipped with two cozy arm chairs and a mirrored ceiling. He has hundreds of literary treasures, from an early “Tarzan of the Apes” to a 1943 diving manual published by the U.S. Navy.

He also has a signed copy of James Frey’s controversial “A Million Little Pieces,” with an inscription penned by Frey himself thanking the book’s recipient for an alleged liaison and wishing her luck with her wedding.

“Every book has a story that’s beyond the book itself,” Elmer explains.

[ click to continue reading at The Bellingham Herald ]

[ click to here to browse Michael’s Books ]

Posted on February 4, 2009 by Editor

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