by Tashe House
Guillver’s Books is often described as, “the farthest north full-service independent bookstore,” referencing its home in Fairbanks, Alaska. The location of this indie shop attracts folks to check out what it offers, which includes one of the largest selections of Alaska titles, both by Alaskan authors and books about Alaska, in the United States.
The original owner, David Hollingsworth, opened Gulliver’s Books in 1985 as a used book store and sold it in 2012 to current owners, Bryan and Christy Wiskeman. It was a quiet and smooth transition and there was no big fuss made of the change of ownership, just like most happenings in Fairbanks.
The once used bookstore has evolved into an independent shop that offers a discount card for purchases, used book trading, special orders at no additional cost, and an upstairs café. The most interesting service the bookseller offers is the opportunity for customers to trade in their Barnes and Noble gift card for an equal value purchase at Gulliver’s Books.
The largest state in America is also not short on local authors and Fairbanks has produced its fair share. There is local journalist, Ned Rozell, whose most recent book is, Natural Alaska: Life on Edge , local historian and professor, Terrence Cole who penned the book, Crooked Past: the History of a Frontier Mining Camp (which has been a popular title with the locals and tourists alike for many years) and Debbie S. Miller, who recently published, On Arctic Ground. There is also is Eowyn Ivey who debuted the novel, The Snow Child. However, one of Christy Wiskeman’s personal favorites is, White Water Blue: Paddling and Trekking Alaska’s Wild Rivers by Frank Keim and she regards “it is a great read for any outdoor enthusiast.”
Guillver’s Books participates in local charities as well. They provide donations to many local non-profit organizations, as well as supporting local educational venues such as the annual History Day competition. Additionally, the shop makes weekly donations of hundreds of used books to their local Literacy Council.
Christy Wiskeman stays positive about the slumping market of independent bookstores:
“there will be a resurgence of independent bookstores as the larger box-store models reach the limits of sustainable business practices. Many people still love to hold a paper book in their hands while they read; they want to be able to flip back and forth between pages, leave sticky notes, turn down the corners of important pages, and share their books with their friends and families.”
Gulliver’s Books is a bookstore that truly understands the history and importance of bookstores, and what they have done, and will continue to do for the community. Gulliver’s Books is a mainstay within the independent bookstore framework and it offers yet another example of the tried survival and success of independent shops.
Images are courtesy of Gulliver’s Books and Jeremy Doorton
Tashe House is a recent graduate of North Carolina Central University where she majored in English with a concentration in writing. She is currently a Publishing intern for Author’s Boutique and she is excited about entering into a Masters program next fall.