I thought it was pretty cool to see that this small, longstanding Whidbey Island (Washington state) bookstore made the Publisher’s Weekly news report. I loved going into bookstores when I was a kid and young adult. And while now I do appreciate the easy, immediate access of ebooks and online ordering, I am still nostalgic for the look and smell of the traditional book store. It always feels like knowledge and worlds in the books reside in the store itself, reaching out to draw you in.
It’s an ongoing conflict in me, this nostalgia for the past, amazement at the present opportunities and intense curiosity about what the future will bring.
When Josh Hauser, who had never worked in her adult life and had no knowledge of bookselling beyond her love of the written word, decided to open Moonraker Books in 1972 her plan was to keep the store going until her children graduated from high school a few years later.
Things didn’t turn out that way, though, and on June 15 the mayor and Chamber of Commerce of Langley, Washington will honor Hauser as Moonraker celebrates its 40th birthday and the distinction of being the longest-running business in town. Whidbey Island is about 25 miles from Seattle. “I’ve loved every minute of it,” Hauser says. “I brought absolutely no expertise with me when I opened the store, but being able to chat with people inside where it’s warm and dry instead of out on the sidewalk is what’s kept me going. That, and my love of books.”
Hauser and her husband purchased their opening inventory from Raymar Northwest in Bellevue, which later became part of Ingram; they handpicked each title. “We brought all the books back to the store and put glass wax on the windows.” They took their time designing the store and shelving the books. “One morning my husband said, ‘Should we open the store today?’ and we cleaned the windows and there was the bookstore.”
Hauser says that Moonraker has “a brilliant staff of five” and is in a two-story building with skylights at the top. The interior of the store has remained the same for 40 years, but the inventory has changed, increasing five-fold to 10,000 titles over the years as the population on the island, home to authors such as Elizabeth George and Nancy Horan, has changed and grown. When Moonraker first opened, the store’s motto was “Sumptuous books for house and garden.” Although Hauser still stocks a lot of these pictorial titles, Moonraker is a general trade bookstore that runs the gamut from children’s books to fiction. “We’re a fluid group here in the store. We’re always stocking different things,” Hauser says.
The celebration honoring Moonraker will take place June 15 at Langley’s Friday night market and street fair in the center of town