Eclipse Bookstore sits on the edge of Fairhaven, a mere block uphill on 11th Street from Village Books. But the two couldn’t be more different. Eclipse can be easily recognized by the towers of books guarding its doorway. Like every volume inside, the books stacked are used. But that doesn’t really matter because at Eclipse Bookstore the fun comes in finding a book, rather than simply looking for the one you set out to buy.
The book columns lining the pavement provide a subtle taste of what’s waiting inside. Upon entering, it’s easy to feel daunted by the sheer number and arrangement of books. Countless tomes line shelves that seemingly run in every direction, stretching up to ceilings and down staircases. Huddled around these walls are even more books, growing like stalagmites toward the ceiling. A neat freak might not appreciate these arrangements, others would argue they embody the bookstore’s charm. With surrounding books on all sides, stacked haphazardly around even more books, it’s a fun place to get lost.
Owner David Carlsen opened Eclipse Bookstore in 1990 and moved into the current location in 2000. With the help of an architect, Carlsen was quick to add high, wood-beam ceilings, hardwood floors, a bay view and a spacey basement, all according to his vision. Then came the books — and more books. He worked closely with the community early on, seeking out those interested in passing on their collections. With countless trades over the years and the shop’s growing reputation, the community now comes to him to either sell or donate their books. But Carlsen still keeps an eye out. “There’s a lot of neat books to be found there,’’ he said. “All the time.” Today you might catch him setting up stacks outside his shop or sitting, obscured at the counter behind the register and a mountain of books.
WHAT YOU’LL FIND
Stacked or shelved inside the shop are approximately 75,000 books, Carlsen estimates. While only a fraction are organized on shelves, the shop gathers most into sections and genres. With such a large collection, someone searching for a book is likely to find one.
A major shop-thrill is perusing the stacks and shelves, only to discover an exciting book you hadn’t even known about. You won’t find yesterday’s bestseller, but you will be surprised when you enter Eclipse Books — whether it’s by the fun, messy aesthetic that makes you feel like you’re in a paper cavern — or by one of the books you find within. Carlsen describes his store as a place for the one percent that still enjoys used book stores. That one percent, he says, contains every type of person.
“I like them all,” Carlsen replied when asked of his favorite book, a response not entirely unexpected from a bookstore owner. But when badgered further, he conceded. If he were in a desert-island scenario, he admit-ted that he’d probably bring along a book of interviews with a figure he admires.
1104 11th St., Bellingham