Featured Bookseller: Pam Donaldson


Pam Donaldson, Johnny Donaldson, and Brenda McCoy

If you're wondering what's so great about Alibris' featured booksellers, first know that Pam Donaldson of Book Connection in Los Alamitos, California, is a former steelworker! Pam says of her former calling, "After going to UCLA for four years and receiving a liberal arts education, I ended up becoming a welder and a fitter in the steel fabrication business. I worked as an Ironworker and a Boilermaker for ten years before becoming an estimator and Manufacturing Engineer for structural, piping, and pressure vessels."

q & a

How did you get started?
Books have always been a large part of my life. As a child, I was a voracious reader and from a family of readers and teachers. That passion continued through college and beyond. The "collecting bug" didn't really take hold until the 80s. Fortunately, I was married to a booklover who was as enthusiastic as I was about spending hours in old bookstores, libraries, estates, and garage sales. As the books piled up, it was really a short step for us to become dealers (one way to support our addiction). We began showing at book fairs, publishing catalogues, and became one of the early Interloc [the previous incarnation Alibris -- Editor] subscribers in what was then a dealer to dealer network. We continued to expand our Internet business while still working our day jobs until 1998 when we decided to take the plunge at bookselling full-time.

We debated between a warehouse-only Internet business vs. a bricks and mortar store as well as the Internet business. We opted for an open shop as well as continuing and expanding our Internet bookselling. With our son, Johnny, and longtime friend and partner, Dennis Duncanwood, we began searching for space. A former post-office building in the city of Los Alamitos, California, was offered to us. We jumped at the chance. The city is one that is fairly small and very community-minded. Its educational system is one of the best in the state and we felt we had built-in readers. Our city limits border several neighboring communities such as Long Beach, Cypress, La Palma, and Seal Beach, all of which relate to one another vis-à-vis retail shopping. After a five month conversion from a post office to a bookstore, we opened the doors in March of 1999.

We are a general bookstore that sells used, out-of-print books, collectible books, as well as new titles. We chose to opt for a spacious and airy atmosphere with couches and chairs available for browsers. We have a large room which is open for use to the community and we host many different groups from a Boy Scout Troop to book clubs, non-profit organization meetings, writing seminars, Saturday story-time for children, as well as financial seminars. The room is free of charge and is our way of giving back to the community. We also have author events, music, and plays.

In October of 1999, we opened a coffeehouse inside the bookstore and in December we opened an outdoor patio. Son Johnny is the "Mocha Maestro," but still does special book events and helps out on the bookstore side. Brenda McCoy has recently joined us after a long association with Acres of Books in Long Beach.

Our ultimate goal is to become a community bookstore. We hope to become a gathering place for friends and neighbors to enjoy books and coffee and as a gathering place for informal as well as formal discussions.

If you weren't selling books, what would you be doing?
If I wasn't selling books, I would be traveling around the country with my retired husband.

What was your best book find, for price or personal reasons?
A garage-lot sale of books that included a pristine copy of Clive Cussler's first book, Mediterranean Caper. Cussler himself couldn't believe what a nice copy it was. (He signed it and we sold it through Interloc).

Contact Pam Donaldson:
Book Connection
10932 Pine Street
Los Alamitos, CA 90720
Phone: 562.430.5578
Fax: 562.430.7796
E-mail: [email protected]
Specialties: Modern fiction, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, vintage paperbacks, Native American, children's, 60s.  




Collecting Mass Market PaperbacksCollecting mass market paperbacks can be fun, rewarding, and often more affordable for beginning collectors. The following is just a brief history and overview of this genre....[More]


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneThe Harry Potter Trilogy by J.K. Rowling - First and foremost, I would recommend the three Harry Potter books. It has been many years since a story this captivating and imaginative has come upon the scene. One of the most delightful aspects of Harry Potter is the enjoyment by age groups from 10 years to 100 years. In our store, I have heard serious and animated discussions between 12-year-olds and 50-year-olds about these books. Of what other titles can this be said?

Horse Heaven Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley - Another favorite is the recent release of Jane Smiley's Horse Heaven. Set in the world of thoroughbred racing, it has an enormous cast of characters (enough to warrant a reference list in the front of the book) and settings in California, Maryland, New York, and France. Great fun, especially when you are introduced to the various horses' points of view in a way that Smiley pulls off naturally and seamlessly.

Plainsong Plainsong by Kent Haruf - I would also recommend Plainsong by Kent Haruf. It is a deceptively simple novel set in Eastern Colorado and focuses on some of the inhabitants of a small town. A very fast read with spare, elegant, language.

A Country Year A Country Year by Sue Hubbell - Another selection is Sue Hubbel's A Country Year. This was first published in the mid-80s and is a year-long seasonal account of her life as a beekeeper on a farm in the Missouri Ozarks.