Alumni of Bookshop Santa Cruz

I didn’t particularly love my time at UC Santa Cruz. Aside from its small but devoted journalism department, my experience at UCSC was more summer camp with extensive journaling than rigorous academics. But I stayed in Santa Cruz in large part because I got a job at Bookshop Santa Cruz.

Bookshop Santa Cruz is a Santa Cruz institution. It’s been on Pacific Avenue since 1966. It survived the 1989 earthquake (it continued operating out of a tent when the quake destroyed its building) and it survived the infiltration of chain bookstores that attempt to put it out of business.

Bookshop is an unofficial information center for Santa Cruz.  In summer, people from ‘over the hill’ would call the store to ask about the weather or the surf. People stopped in to ask for directions or for restaurant recommendations. Just about anyone who visited Santa Cruz made their way through Bookshop Santa Cruz. I once ran into my 6th grade teacher while I was working there.

It wasn’t necessarily an easy job. Working with the public is always a challenge, but it was even more difficult in Santa Cruz, where the store, like the town, attracted crazies like moths to a flame. (A customer once told me I looked like a ‘peaceful dolphin’.) But in the 10 years since I left Bookshop, I’ve looked back on it fondly. My work there felt more meaningful than any job I’ve had since, certainly more important to me than making wealthy people wealthier. I believed in Bookshop, in the importance of  an independent bookstore, a place with personality and determination. It’s an endangered species these days.

It isn’t nostalgia that’s made me look back on my days at Bookshop Santa Cruz, though. Rather it’s the news that my old employer is ‘going rogue’ (to quote a certain Alaskan nutter) and selling copies of Sarah Palin’s new book with a pack of nuts — and not just any nuts, “Sarah Palin’s Just Plain Nutz”. The online offer states that the nuts are also sold separately: “A bag of Sarah Palin’s Just Plain Nutz is also available for $3.98 to those who can stomach a 1 ounce bag of walnuts, but can’t stomach 432 pages of Sarah Palin’s writing.”

This isn’t Bookshop’s first stab at creative bookselling, but it is one reason that I’m proud to be an Bookshop alumni.

Update: Green Apple Books, my favorite SF bookstore, has another option. Buy the Sarah Palin book at Green Apple and the store will donate the proceeds to the Alaskan Wildlife Alliance.

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One Response to “Alumni of Bookshop Santa Cruz”

  1. sarah Says:

    fabulous. I told you about my neighbors who had a life size cut-out of Sarah Palin in their yard, right? there she was, grinning maniacally every time i drove home for like a month.

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