Gulliver’s Books is the Northernmost indie bookstore in the United States and boasts not only the best selection of Alaskana books around but also the best mushroom soup, which sounds like it might just be worth the trip up the Alaska highway.
The store offers a popular program in which anyone can exchange a gift card from the Barnes & Noble down the road for a Gulliver’s gift card. All the customer has to do is ask a Gulliver’s clerk to Unchain her, and she gets a Gulliver’s gift card in the same amount as the B & N card. The store gets about 200 cards traded in every year, with most of them around the holiday season.
Gulliver’s will celebrate its 25th Anniversary this November with a party and sale that will kick off its holiday season. All new books and gift items will be discounted 25 percent. (Last year, everything was 24 percent off, the year before 23 percent . . .) Used books will be 50 percent off. The Grinch will make an appearance and so will a few authors. “It’s scheduled for November 19-21 and if the last couple of years are any indication, it’s going to be crazy-fun,” says Gulliver clerk Annie Tupek.
We asked Tupek a few questions.
Year established? 1985
Square feet? 7,000
Number of Employees? 10 Booksellers, 4 Cafe Staffers
What are some of the other businesses you frequent in your neighborhood? We’re just down the street from Inua wool,which is a great knitting store. For outdoor equipment, Beaver Sports is great. We’re nextdoor to Hot Licks Ice Cream. It can be hard to pass up the aroma of waffle cones that perfumes the air most summer days. (Editors note: In Alaska, they eat more ice cream, per capita, than in any other state in the union).
What’s the best lunch within walking distance? Right up the stairs to the Second Story Cafe which shares space with our used book sections. We feature wraps, sandwiches, and salads. Thursday is mushroom soup day and draws a huge crowd week after week.
Mushroom soup? Hungarian Mushroom Soup has been a Gulliver’s tradition since the Second Story Cafe opened in 1997. Handmade from scratch every week, it’s a deliciousness that you have to experience for yourself.
Will you name a couple of books that have been popular handsellers at Gulliver’s recently? Purely Alaska: Authentic Voices from the Far North is a collection of essays about living in the wild in Alaska. The editors were in for an reading last week and we had a pretty good turn out for it. The Lance Mackey Story: How My Obsession with Dog Mushing Saved My Life is a powerful biography that has been flying off the shelves.
Who’s buying the Alaskana books—tourists or locals? We sell a lot of Alaskana titles to a mix of tourists and townies. It’s always interesting during the summer to see where all the visitors are from. While we have a huge selection of adult and childrens Alaskana, we also stock new books in over one hundred catagories.
Name a book blog or website you frequent? I go to Goodreads.com a lot to keep up with what my out-of-town friends and family are reading.
Will you and a couple of staff members recommend a few books?
The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It captivates from the beginning and is structured to make putting it down at the end of a chapter impossible. Stockett did an amazing amount of research, but the pseudo-autobiographical aspect of it made it even more interesting.—Kimberly
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Franco. I’m a cookbook addict but was afraid of baking bread at home until I picked up this book. Don’t be afraid of what appear to be complicated directions. The end results are astounding!—Annie