LONG BEACH, Wash. - Some folks come to Washington's Long Beach Peninsula for the kites.

Others come for the quilts, oysters, cranberries, Lewis and Clark, laser tag, storm-watching, restaurants, shops, bed and breakfasts, art galleries or, of course, the miles and miles of beaches.

But the peninsula is on its way toward becoming a destination for people seeking something else - books.

"There's all sorts of book things going on here," said Gayle Borchard, owner of Independent Books, tucked in the Sandpiper Mall in Long Beach, Wash.

"We're doing more and more events here, trying to attract both readers and writers," she said.

Karla Nelson, owner of Time Enough Books at the Port of Ilwaco, Wash., has regular out-of-town customers call her and order vacation reads that they come to pick up.

"I think we're maybe starting to see a trend where it's becoming a destination for readers," she said. "We just try to make it special." She said she keeps up to date with what people like to read and have those books in stock for them. "It's fun," she said.

Peninsula readers have a diverse taste in reading material, she said: "A little bit of everything."

She has a large maritime section for the people who come in and have to have the latest lighthouse book, history book, cozy mystery whodunit or the latest "creepy seas story," as she refers to shipwreck books.

Nelson and Borchard put out a joint spring catalog this year, and the "friendly competitors" regularly send customers to each other if they don't have a particular book, Borchard said.

'The peninsula is a total escape into doing things that restore you,' says innkeeper Susie Goldsmith, who has placed books throughout her Boreas Bed & Breakfast Inn and encourages guests to exchange books with her collection.Now they're working together to promote the region for readers and writers.

"What we're trying to do is raise awareness of the bookishness of the place," Borchard said.

Last month, author Gina Ochsner had a reading and answered questions at the Moby Dick Hotel in Nahcotta, and Borchard is going to release Trecia Greene's new book at Independent Books. Jane Kirkpatrick launched her latest book, "A Clearing in the Wild," at the Ilwaco Heritage Museum, while last week Nelson planned to host the authors of "Pirattitude," who also started Talk Like a Pirate Day.

The peninsula bookstores treat guest authors well, Nelson said, with nice places to stay and nice meals.

"We like to spoil them because we like them to come back," she said.

Readers end up coming back as well. A book club from Olympia, Wash., comes to the area a couple times a year for a retreat and comes to Nelson for selection recommendations.

Writing desks are in some of the guest rooms at the Boreas Bed & Breakfast Inn, where Susie Goldsmith says, 'We have a really thoughtful guest base.'Independent bookstores are able to offer customers a personal touch, Borchard said.

"We can put the book in your hand, we can talk to you about the book," she said, adding that stores such as hers are getting less common. "I'm hoping that we're not going the way of the drive-in movie, but we may."

For now, though, the bookstores on the peninsula are going strong. While for a 10-year-old boy, Long Beach and its go-carts and laser tag could be heaven, Borchard noted, people are starting to realize that the peninsula offers literary pursuits as well.

"I think there's so much more here," she said.

Susie Goldsmith thumbs through a favorite book of hers, 'The Time Traveler's Wife.'

Books by regional authors such as Jane Kirkpatrick are on the shelves at Time Enough Books.


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