Abe Richmond, Browsers’ Books

Apr 19, 2024 | Community, Muses

Get to know Abe Richmond, Browsers’ Books

CC Muses: In Greek mythology, the muses were Zeus’ daughters and the goddesses of the arts, sciences, and literature. Today, in fashion and beyond, a muse is a source of inspiration. Next up in our “Consign Couture Muses” series we are pleased to hear from Abe Richmond , owner of Browsers’ Bookstore in Albany, Oregon. Photos by Tamara Young and Riley From Oregon.

Tamara first visited Browsers’ when Riley From Oregon, (whose name or style you may recognize from our last Consign Couture photoshoot!), approached her with a creative concept for a shoot and an invitation to participate. Tamara and Nathan spent an afternoon with Riley at Browsers’, a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of used and new books, and the result is the collection of dreamy photos included below. Abe Richmond is the man behind the shop! We aren’t just highlighting Abe and his work because he is a passionate and knowledgeable, secondhand seller and up-cycler of books (though both of those things are right up our alley), but because Browsers’ is a gem of a shop in an area less well-known to Portlanders that we are eager to share with our community!  Read on for the Q&A, and add Browsers’ to your list next time you head South to Albany!

Hi Abe, tell us about Browsers’! How did you come to own the shop, and what is meaningful to you about it? 

So, I started working for the original owner of Browsers’, Scott Givens who now owns Crooked House Books in Portland, while I was in high school. It’s funny to think about now because working at Browsers’ has been my only job, albeit in different capacities. I worked at Browsers’ throughout college and within months after graduating, when Scott decided he was going to sell or close the store, I felt I should give it a go. We are the only bookstore in Albany and with so few around period, this allows Browsers’ to help people get the books they want not only here but throughout the eastern side of I5. Almost every day we have customers from Sweet Home, Scio, Lebanon, and Gates. Having a local spot where people can get books is important to me, especially when it is young kids who are excited to take their books home or people who do not have access to the internet and therefore cannot order books online. It is also interesting to me because the used book trade is a pretty old profession and there is not a school or structured apprentice program. This is something I think a lot about. I hope to one day be able to pass on what I know about the book trade to another who is interested in taking over Browsers’ or starting their own shop. 

Do you think about how to incorporate environmental sustainability into your business or practice? What challenges have you encountered, or successes have you had?

By nature of reselling used goods, we are innately more sustainable than selling new ones. But this is not always enough. We often have books rebound to give them life again and donate books that we don’t need to several non-profits and libraries in the area. Sometimes books are beyond repair and need to be recycled, but books can’t always be recycled because of the types of ink and glue used in them. So, I’ve been developing (albeit in the very early stages) a way to convert waste books into pellets that would work in any pellet stove, which is ubiquitous in the PNW for heating homes. I think this is a promising adventure, not for profit necessarily but definitely for finding another use for book waste.

What are you reading right now?

Right now I am reading Roberto Bolano’s 2666. It is a wide-ranging book, covering everything from the murders of the 112 women in Santa Teresa from 1993 to 1997 in Juarez to a very niche academic study of Eastern European poetry. It was selected as our read for March. We host a small book club here at Browsers’ cheekily called the Tome Raiders because we’ve agreed to only read big long boring books. However, this one is not boring at all!

What’s your favorite book in the shop right now? 

Right now, my favorite book that I have in the shop is a signed edition of Loba by Diane di Prima, an early beat poet. She passed away in 2020 and has seen a bit of a resurgence lately, with new editions of her books being printed. She’s one of my favorites and I’m currently working on a bibliography of her work.

Is there a book you think everybody would benefit from reading?

I think everyone should read The Finca Vigia Edition of Hemingway’s short stories. He is a bit out of vogue at the moment, but the clarity and concision that he writes with is unparalleled. The emotional nuance and purity of his storytelling are striking. If I could only pick one short story featured in this collection, it would be Hills Like White Elephants. A must-read!

Tell us about your favorite outfit. What makes you feel your best, or the most “you”?

Workwear has taken over and I love it. I feel that it can be dressed up or dressed down for actual work. I didn’t know it had a name until recently, but I have always dressed similarly. Carharts and a button-up shirt with boots and a chore coat look great to me. It also has such a Pacific Northwest feel!

This one is a bonus question! What are some small businesses you love?

Shout out to Pacific Perk Coffee, which has a stand in our parking lot.
Ba’s Vietnamese food is a must for anyone visiting Albany.
Right next door to Ba’s is No Rails Ale House, a nice and relaxing environment to get a beer or cider on the weekend.