Born with a rare spinal defect, Annie Carl has had 20 surgeries in her life, plus she survived a bout with cancer, now in remission after 10 years; five years deemed to be cured. Through it all, there has been one constant. “Books are how I escaped,” she said.
Carl grew up in Kingston “with no cable, no internet, no cell phones,” but there was a local bookstore she frequented, Mr. B’s Bookery (now The Kingston Bookery). “I went in every week and asked if they were hiring,” Carl remembered. Eventually, the bookstore expanded and the owners did take her on.
“I worked six hours a week shelving books, paid in books.”
By the time Carl went to college, she pretty much knew how to run the store on her own.
After graduation, armed with a journalism degree from Western Washington University, Carl worked for the North Kitsap Herald newspaper for a few years, where she talked an editor into giving her a weekly book review column.
Later, Carl worked at Third Place Books for five years, and the idea of owning her own store began to seriously percolate. “I went back to school. I took a business class at Edmonds Community College and earned an accounting certificate. I got a very clear picture of how this would work.”
Four years ago, she opened her business in Bothell: The Neverending Bookshop, named after one of her favorite childhood books, “The Neverending Story.”
“I was starting to feel the store was stable and established, but then the lease wasn’t renewed,” she said. That’s when Carl moved her shop to Edmonds. “I’m basically starting over, having to build a customer base,” she said.
Selling new and used books — mostly children’s books, science fiction, mystery, fantasy and romance — she builds that base by offering a host of events, readings, and gatherings at the store, including a night where people bring in their knitting or other arts and crafts while listening to audiobooks.
“And the children’s corner is a room to itself, with a big mural of a dragon,” said Carl. ”We’re all about dragons.”
She’s especially proud of a section with books that depict disabled characters with compassion and dignity. “Society is stuck in the ‘50s and ‘60s when it comes to the disabled and media,” she said. “We need to change that.”
As for online competition, Carl said it’s just not something she worries about. “All indie bookstores operate on a tiny margin but we can do what online sellers can’t: Talk to customers. It’s the human quality that you can only find in a bookstore.”
That human touch will be on full display this month with a couple of Halloween-themed events at The Neverending Bookshop. Friday, Oct. 18 features spooky stories with local authors J. Anderson Coats, “The Green Children of Woolpit,” and Deborah Cuyle, “Haunted Everett Washington.” On Saturday, Oct. 26 at 6 p.m., The Neverending Bookshop celebrates the season with stories, snacks and a bookstore ghost.
The Neverending Bookshop is located at 7530 Olympic View Drive, Unit 105, in Edmonds’ Perrinville neighborhood: 425-415-1945; theneverendingbookshop.com
— By Connie McDougall