Centralia Used Bookstore Allows Readers to Travel to Different Worlds

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As soon as customers walk through the door at Anderson Book Company, they are greeted by rows and rows of bookshelves. 

Nestled in the narrow aisles of used books, owner LaRae Roe can be found reading or moving about reorganizing the shelves.

“I just love books,” she said. “(Selling them) is all I’ve done for 30 years.” 

She got her first job in the book business as the storekeeper for the Puyallup Bookmark. Roe ran the store while the owner was away working another job. She started her own bookstore in Centralia five years ago when Tilikum Books Owner Geary Lockard approached her while she was selling books at the Community Garage Sale at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds and asked her if she would be interested in leasing space to start a bookstore. 

She was. 

She named the store Anderson Book Company because Anderson is her maiden name and the initials are ABC. She says it fits the address, which is 123 N. Tower Ave. 

Aside from books spanning every genre, she sells pendants, watches and other knick-knacks. 

“I like to sell things that are related to different books,” Roe said. “Pocket watches and books, they actually kind of go hand in hand.”

Pocket watches are used as a symbol for time or patterns in some young adult books, she noted. 

As an avid reader, Roe has loved the work of several authors, such as Timothy Egan. One book she said had an impact on her is “Boys Life” written by Robert Mccammon. 

“It was an absolutely magical book,” Roe said. “If you don’t understand the magic in the book then you have lost your childhood.” 

One of her favorite books she currently has on sale is “The Ashley Book of Knots,” which not only gives instructions on how to tie almost every knot but gives a history of it and what it is best used for. 

People regularly come in to browse, buy and sell. Shopping for a book online is great if a person is looking for a specific book, but it’s not the same experience as browsing and discovering new authors and titles like a person can at a bookstore. Roe added that buying a physical copy of a book is better than a digital copy because it is something tangible, something that can be held. 

“When you buy a book online you are really buying nothing,” she said. “You can’t give it to your friends to read or barter with it.”

It also can’t be passed on to the next generation, Roe said, so parents can’t as easily share it with their children. 

“You have to get the younger generation reading,” Roe said. “It opens up a whole new world.”  

The “Harry Potter” books did wonders for the industry as a whole because they got more people reading and in a way created the groundwork for other young adult epics such as “The Hunger Games,” she said.  

Young adult fiction and the classics are the two most popular sections she has, Roe said. 

One of the challenges, she said, was figuring out what books would stand the test of time to make sure those titles were available for the next wave of readers.