Sisters, Oregon is a lovely small town in the shadow of the beautiful Three Sisters Mountains. The downtown decor is western quaint. With only a population of 1925, Sisters supports two stores, Paulina Springs Books and Lonesome Water Books. I dropped by Paulina Springs Books three years ago and picked up Owl Island by Randy Sue Coburn on the booksellers recommendation and I was looking forward to seeing how the store changed.
Bucking the bookstore trend of hunkering or closing down, Paulina Springs Books has expanded since my first visit. They opened a sister store in Redmond, Oregon (see my review of that store and how to pronounce Paulina) and are enlarging this store by breaking through a wall and taking on additional space. Larger didn’t change the chatty atmosphere. I remember during my first experience that a discussion about books became a store wide conversation among the various customers and booksellers. The same open conversations occurred again, where customers and booksellers bantered back and forth about upcoming books, YA recommendations, and great reads.
Like it’s sister store, Paulina Springs Books has a strong outdoor/nature section. Of course, there is an emphasis on Oregon, remember the Three Sister Mountains are looming out the front window, yet I found several books to accompany me on my southwest trip (since cancelled). I found a shelf talker recommending Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams, and when I told the bookseller I bought the book to read for a trip to the southwest, she pointed me to Red by Williams, a collection of essays and poems about the very areas I would travel. As a bonus, Paulina Springs Books carries new and gently used books and my copy of Red was barely touched but came with a nice discount. Meandering through the shelves I discovered Wallace Stegner’s Beyond the Hundredth Meridian about John Wesley Powell and his explorations in the area we would be river rafting. One trip to an independent bookstore took care of all my vacation reading. I love booksellers.
Not only are there two bookstores in Sisters, there are six independent bookstores in the wider Bend/Redmond area. I asked how that helps or hurts the stores. They seem spaced in such a way to serve their unique communities without stepping on each others toes. In Sisters, Lonesome Water is strictly a used bookstore with its own flavor while just across the grass courtyard Paulina Springs Books is a traditional bookstore with new and used books, author events and a broad offering of genres (the children’s section was quite extensive). Paulina Springs Books in Redmond and the stores in Bend are far enough away not to drain customers from the Sisters stores, but close enough to join together for joint author events or literary activities. Plus, Paulina Springs Books in Sisters has a strong tourist trade, because if someone is in the area, Sisters is worth dropping by for the beauty and the bookstores.
Paulina Springs Books
252 W. Hood Ave.
Sisters, OR 97759