I’m so sorry for the break in posts, the cold and flu season visited our home early this year and hit me the hardest, ugh! Anyway, I’m hoping to get back in to the rhythm of two or three posts a week next month. Until then, enjoy this post from my dear friend Leslie Boatwright.
Sitka, Alaska, is only accessible by boat or air but is the fourth largest city in Alaska. Unlike other similar cities such as Ketchikan and Juneau in Alaska’s inland waterway, Sitka does not have a deep water pier, which keeps many of the major cruise ships away. Most of the shops are owned and frequented by the locals, so they are open all year round, rather than just during the height of tourist season.
The Russian Orthodox church, dating back to when the Russians came to Alaska for the fur trade, is the focal point of the downtown area. Just down the street about one half block from the church is Old Harbor Books.
The bookstore is in a lovely wooden building that makes you immediately feel at home. I can easily imagine how cozy it is during the colder months, but even in the summer when this part of the state is misty and chilly, it is a welcome haven. If you are interested in learning about Alaska and Northwestern Canada, this is a terrific place to stop. Almost one wall of the store contains books about the history of Alaska and Canada, the animals, the flora and fauna, places to hike and information about local fishing.
Old Harbor Books is owned and run by eight local residents, six who have been owners since the bookstore opened in1976. The management has always taken a strong environmental position, including one of the owners chaining himself to the store in 1991 to protest local logging. You can find out much about the community including political and environmental issues by looking at the postings on the walls, shelves and center island.
There is an old functioning printing press in the center of the store, next to all of the New York Times bestsellers. My personal favorite when visiting bookstores is the employee recommendations and Old Harbor Books has lots of them. Clearly these folks are truly book lovers and heavy readers.
My daughters spent our entire visit in a corner nook with a really nice selection of both children’s books and YA books. While a small area, it had all their favorites, plus a few we weren’t familiar with yet.
And, if you just want to sit down, relax and peruse a book while enjoying coffee or tea, the Back Door Café opens up in the back of the store.
201 Lincoln Street
Sitka, AK 99835