Celebrating 50 Years of Community Bookselling

Dear Readers,
Ten years ago, I moved back to Santa Cruz to take over Bookshop Santa Cruz from my father Neal, who was leaving Bookshop to run for county supervisor. At the time, we were on the cusp of our 40th anniversary and I came with a deep loyalty to the mission and sense of community that was at the heart of Bookshop. I also came at a time when it looked like the rise of ebooks and online commerce, along with the Great Recession, were going to pose significant and possibly irreversible threats to independent bookstores, including ours. Now, as I reach my decade mark running the store and we are fully immersed in planning celebrations for our 50th anniversary, I can happily say that the powerful combination of customer loyalty, author engagement, bookseller enthusiasm, and community partnerships has never been stronger in helping make independent bookstores, like Bookshop, continue to thrive.

Bookshop’s history carries an incredible array of stories that, when told cumulatively, rival any modern retelling of a David and Goliath story. Rising from the ashes of the earthquake when our building was destroyed, our customers rescuing the books from the rubble, supporting us in a pavilion tent for more than 3 years, and moving us box by box across the street to our new location. Fighting chain bookstores and the unfair business practices of major competitors with public campaigns about shopping locally. Customers vowing never to set foot in the Borders bookstore down the street. Producing countdown clocks for the end of George W. Bush’s presidency that sold over 65,000 nationwide, ultimately allowing us to survive some of our most financially strapped years in business.

However, Bookshop’s true story lies more in the day-to-day connections and interactions we have with our customers in the store during the last 50 years. The passion of our booksellers hand-selling a book they love to an enthusiastic reader. The author presenting her work to a customer who became that much more informed and connected to the work. The sense of discovery that comes from wandering through the displays and shelves of a bookstore, that creates a path to a new genre, new author, or new idea. The unplanned meeting between two friends in the aisles of the community’s living room. The thousands upon thousands of moments where we played a part in connecting a reader to a book that might influence his or her life in some small or large way. All of these moments make up the history of Bookshop Santa Cruz and all of you have played a central role in helping us reach this milestone together.

We have a number of celebrations planned this year to celebrate our 50th anniversary and to give thanks to all of you who helped us reach this moment. We hope you can join us to celebrate and then continue on this journey of learning, discovery, and community for another 50 years to come.

Casey Coonerty Protti
Owner, Bookshop Santa Cruz


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(831) 423-0900 · 1520 Pacific Ave · Downtown Santa Cruz · Santa Cruz, CA · 95060