North Bend bookseller finds reading business recession-proof

Jackie Barber
Jackie Barber's childhood dream was to run her own bookstore. Her North Bend shop, Phoenix Books, is now in its third year in business in her former downtown home.
— image credit: Allison Espiritu / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Bookstore owner Jackie Barber gets a lot of surprised looks from customers walking inside Phoenix Books.

The North Bend store, based out of a small house on Bendigo Boulevard, looks small, but its interior contains more than 10,000 books.

“From the street, a lot of people ask, ‘Why bother?’” Barber said. “But when you come in, it goes back and back and back, and there’s a lot more space than people realize.”

What became the store was Barber’s first Valley home when she moved here in 1986. She had dreamed of opening a bookshop, and three years ago, she transformed it from a rental house to a store.

“I loved owning books and can’t imagine not owning a book,” Barber said.

While the economy has been tough on her shop, Barber believes books are ultimately recession-proof. Her store inexpensively cycles facts and fiction through readers’ hands.

Serving customers who still love reading books the old-fashioned way, Barber said she sees a lot of people who bring in books to sell. Her fiction aisles stay busy. Other offerings include children’s books, non-fiction and cookbooks.

“You can get a decent paperback for a couple dollars and that gives you several hours of entertainment,” Barber said. “I don’t think books are going to go away.”

Newfangled electronic readers will, sooner or later, have to replaced and disposed of, she said.

“They’re going to wear out and the novelty will wear off,” she said.

Books, on the other hand, are greener and made from a renewable resource.

Still, Barber hasn’t shied from technology. This autumn, she is creating a Web presence for her store.

“I’m going to start to fall in line as soon as I get the books online,” she said. “That’s going to help out.”

• Find Phoenix Books on Facebook or call (425) 888-0535. Phoenix Books is located at 319 Bendigo Blvd. N., North Bend.

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