Few things in life bring me greater joy than checking out independent book shops while traveling. They all have a different feel and reflect something distinct about the people who own them or the city they’re in. However, they all share the same subtle, electrifying atmosphere fueled by the wonder and excitement of the books just waiting to be explored. Beach Books in Seaside is one such gem that’s been opening minds and supplying tourists and locals with books since 2005.
The owner and operator, Karen Emmerling, spent most of her adult life pursuing other professions and diversions, most notably raising children and working with her husband at Gearhart Ironwerks. However, 18 years ago after a visit to Portland’s annual literary festival, Wordstock, she realized Seaside (and her life) was sorely in need of a good bookstore so she took the plunge to start one herself.
Beach Books was originally located on a side street in downtown Seaside for seven years, but in 2012 a perfect location right on Broadway became available and Emmerling couldn’t say no. Though they had made a name for themselves as the “bookshop around the corner,” she couldn’t pass up this prime location that nearly doubled her floor space. She made the move now more than 10 years ago and hasn’t looked back since.
The store itself is instantly warm and inviting with its hardwood floors throughout, reading nooks, shelves and shelves of titles, and of course that unmistakable smell of books! Although the store specializes in contemporary fiction, young adult and childrens books, they have a great selection no matter what you’re looking for, be it science fiction, romance, biographies, graphic novels, or books about the local area. There are also curated tables dotted throughout the store displaying new books, highlighted genres and themes, seasonal selections, or the perfect book to read while on a coast vacation. They also have lots of books signed by authors as well!
In addition to books they also sell greeting cards, journals, adult coloring books, puzzles, calendars, and other fun gift items like funky socks, hats, shirts, locally-made soap, and irreverent kitchen towels. They also hold regular events with local authors and artists.
If you can’t make it out to Seaside, but still want to know what this adorable shop is up to, check out their great website where you can read about the staff’s recommendations and reviews, and can even purchase books to be shipped to you—what a great way to support a small, local business even when you can’t be there in person! Also worth checking out is their social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok where you can stay up to date on the bestsellers and popular titles of the day and get ideas of what you should read next.
Beach Books is also known for their friendly staff both in the store and while shopping online. Many books in the store are tagged with a hand-written, personal description and review from one of the incredibly well-read staff members who can help you find a book even if you only have the vaguest description. Additionally, don’t be surprised if your online order comes with a handwritten note that includes recommendations of other titles you might be interested in!
I can’t think of a better way to kill a few hours on the beach than picking up a new book, heading across the street to Seaside Coffee Roasters for coffee and a breakfast sandwich, and losing yourself in a story. You’ll be shocked that a bookstore of this caliber exists in such a small town!
- Monday - Saturday, 10:00am - 6:00pm
- Sunday, 10:00am - 4:00pm
Address: 616 Broadway St., Seaside