Skip to content

Seaside Stories

Cozy Up With Bookstore Owner Karen Emmerling

August 23, 2022 | by Margarett Waterbury

SEASIDE SPOTLIGHT: Our latest profile in a series focused on the behind-the-scenes movers who make Seaside the unique destination it is today. Previously.


Many have dreamed of quitting their jobs, moving to the Oregon Coast and opening a bookstore. For most of us, it remains a fantasy. But for Karen Emmerling, that dream became reality in 2005 when she opened Beach Books in Seaside. Today this welcoming independent bookstore is the literary anchor of one of Oregon’s favorite coastal towns.

Bookstore proprietor wasn’t Emmerling’s first career. Before starting the shop, she worked in television and advertising, and she co-owned Gearhart Ironwerks with her blacksmith husband (recently transformed into a custom knife-making operation called John Emmerling Knives). But after attending Wordstock (now Portland Book Festival) in 2005, she realized that wrought iron and ad sales might not be her calling after all. 

“I walked into the convention center and I just felt immediately, instantly at home,” says Emmerling. “This is where I should have been all my life.”

Beach Books opened its doors not long afterward. Today Emmerling says part of the store’s success is a sterling roster of fantastic employees, including store manager Alexa Butler, who started working at Beach Books in high school and stuck around. “We’re real friendly here, and people come in because they like the staff,” Emmerling says. 

That friendly touch even extends to the often-impersonal realm of online sales. Every online order from Beach Books comes wrapped with a personalized note. The staff also try to pass on advance reader copies — preview copies of books sent to retailers by publishers — to customers with an interest in the author or genre. 

“I really am a lousy salesperson unless I am really passionate about something, which I am about books,” says Emmerling. “I love putting the right book in the right hands. It doesn’t feel like selling.”

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Emmerling believes it’s actually been a good time for booksellers. Local support has been strong, and online orders have poured in from around the country. 

“The pandemic taught us to appreciate the people who are in our community who are going to be there for you,” says Emmerling — like independent booksellers. “If you value having a bookstore, it says something good about a community.”

Although online sales are still brisk, Emmerling relates that she’s relieved to be back with open doors, welcoming visitors and locals alike to browse shelves stocked with mysteries, nonfiction, memoirs, poetry, novels, young adult and kids’ books, cookbooks and more.

Karen’s Beach-Read Recommendations

Beach Books stocks all genres, including as many local authors as they know about. Emmerling is partial to novels when it comes to a great beach read. She shared three of her recent favorites, and what she liked about each one.


Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

“The story takes place in an aquarium, and there’s a very precocious octopus who likes to roam around the aquarium at night. The octopus has a connection with an older woman, and it’s just a delight. It’s heartwarming. There’s more to the story than just the octopus. It’s really quite wonderful.”


Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

“The story takes place in the early ’60s. A woman chemist is pregnant by her boss, and they are not married, and so she is fired. The only job she can get, because she has to raise this child, is as a television cooking-show hostess. She takes the opportunity to teach chemistry to her viewers. It’s quite timely, but it also has a lot of humor and warmth.”


Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Book Lovers is the story of an editor and a book critic who have a contentious relationship. They end up in a small town together. The editor is taken there by her sister, who has this list of things they’re to do while they’re there, and she and the critic become interconnected.”

If none of those sound quite right for your own leisurely reading needs, stop by Beach Books for a personalized recommendation. Then settle in on a beach blanket (or in a relaxing Seaside coffee house, perhaps) and lose yourself in a great story.


and so much more!

Clam Chowder
Must-Eat Clam Chowders in Seaside

A look at five of the more than 20 clam chowders found in Seaside, Oregon

Learn More
Iconic Seaside in Stereo

by Joshua Heineman Director of Tourism Marketing This is something of a detective story. To fully appreciate it, you first need to...

Learn More
Smoothies, Boba, Floats and Other Specialty Drinks

It’s hot out and you’ve worked up a thirst. Sometimes that plain old water isn’t going to satisfy. Luckily, it’s easy to f...

Learn More
Beach Books is an independent book store in Seaside, Oregon.
Where to Shop for Souvenirs in Seaside

Hunting for bargains? Searching for Seaside souvenirs? Seeking one-of-a-kind gifts? You’ve come to the right place. To your deli...

Learn More
A Stop on the Art Walk

Capturing what goes on behind the scenes of a First Saturday Art Walk

Learn More
Buffleheads: Oregon Coast’s Silliest Part-Time Residents

Buffleheads in Seaside, Oregon rivers in winter.

Learn More
How to Catch Your Dinner: Learning the joy of razor clamming in Seaside, Oregon

The way to dig for razor clams and what to do with them once you catch them in Seaside, Oregon...

Learn More
After the Storm

A look at a storm from the early 1900s in Seaside

Learn More
Let’s Fly a Kite

On the beach at Seaside is perfect for this. There are no overhead wires and the beach has few up or down wind drafts from the winds which move across the ocean. This makes kite flying easier and explains why kites are a common part of the Seaside landscape. Kite flying is for dry days as wet kite lines can act as a conductor for static electricity and lightning in a storm.

Learn More
Supersize Me!

A brief look at Seaside's past sweets and treats

Learn More
A New Year of Seaside Adventures

A new year in Seaside means you have 12 months of adventure ahead —  trekking through rain forests, watching whales spray and d...

Learn More
Pocket Garden Walking Tour

When you walk down Broadway Street, you notice the patches of flowers planted along the sidewalk — all bursting with color, no m...

Learn More
Seaside Summer Event Guide

We know that Seaside’s stellar location is reason enough to visit. But summers here are jam-packed with events that you won’t ...

Learn More
How to Sip Coffee Like a Local

Want your favorite coffee drink for free? Easy! Help us keep the beach clean and your coffee is on us. Seaside has something for e...

Learn More
Episode Four: the Seaside Museum & Butterfield Cottage

Audio walking tour of the Seaside Museum & Butterfield Cottage

Learn More
Family Reunion

Seaside is a hot spot for family reunion get-togethers.

Learn More
Seaside Lifeguards – Kicking off the Summer Season

The lifeguard tower in Seaside ensures a safe and fun beach experience.

Learn More