A few Seattle-area booksellers have achieved celebrity status. They’re the names that PR people from New York publishers casually drop when they discuss the Seattle market, the booksellers that other booksellers look to for recommendations, the superstars who represent regional booksellers on panels and in organizations. Queen Anne Book Company bookseller Tegan Tigani is absolutely one of those celebrity booksellers. (If you need any more proof of her celebrity status, consider that Montana author Shann Ray recently waxed rhapsodic on the cadence of her name in the middle of an onstage interview.)
Tigani is heroically devoted to books and literature. Aside from the 16 to 20 hours a week she puts in at QABC as the children’s and young adult book buyer, she’s also the editor for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association’s Northwest Booklovers blog a children’s book editor at large for Sasquatch Books’ children’s imprint, Little Bigfoot, and a freelance developmental editor who works on adult and young adult novels. Seemingly every hour of her day is spent thinking about books: buying books for the store, selling books to customers, editing books, talking about books.
Tigani has been a bookseller at QABC (and its predecessor, Queen Anne Books) for about 15 years. It was, she adds, “my first job out of college.” When she moved to Seattle, Queen Anne Books was the first bookstore she visited. She credits the bookstore for honing “my sense of community. As somebody who is naturally an introvert, it’s nice to have a place where it’s safe to talk to people about books that I love.” She calls the bookstore “a great reason to get out of my pajamas. A lot of my other jobs I can work from home, and so it’s wonderful to go out and see people and have to be presentable once in a while.”
So what has Tigani been recommending lately? She’s been extra-fond of Strictly No Elephants, a picture book by Lisa Mantchev. “It’s darling,” Tigani says, “because it’s about outsiders.” Elephants is the story of a boy who takes his pet elephant to a pet club, but then he discovers that the club only accepts traditional pets, so he and some other kids — one of whom owns a narwhal — form their own club. Tigani enjoys it in particular because “it’s a story about kids and pets but It’s also a story about fitting in and standing up for yourself,” as told in “beautiful illustrations that look classic to me.” She’s also fond of One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree, which she says is “really fun to read aloud.”
Fifteen years is a long time in the bookselling business, and Tigani has a lot of interesting jobs; what keeps her invested in Queen Anne Book Company? “There is the proximity issue,” she laughs. “My husband and I bought a house in Queen Anne because we love a neighborhood that is centered around a bookstore.” When she goes to work, she says, she’s reminded that “what I really love about Queen Anne Book Company is that this is my community. The fact that my neighbors, the people I run into at the grocery store, the people who cut my hair — they all come to the bookstore, so it’s a center of our life.”
For the few dark months when Queen Anne Books was closed and Queen Anne Book Company had not yet been created, she says, “I just had a hole in my life. I didn’t have that place where I ran into people. I didn’t have a place where I could unabashedly geek out about books, a place where I’m accepted and even celebrated for being a book-lover.” With Queen Anne Book Company, she always has that place. It’s another kind of home.