When Bob and Linda White opened Sundog Books in Seaside, Fl., in 1986, they stocked a little bit of everything, including a carefully chosen selection of cookbooks. According to Laney Blanchard, event coordinator and bookseller who now organizes the section, a little time and a lot of care go a long way in choosing and selling the store’s books. “We do really well, and I’m pretty proud of the cookbook section,” she told PW, adding that the store’s prime location likely plays its part, too. “We’re lucky because we get so much traffic.”
Being situated on Central Square across from the outdoor amphitheater, Sundog Books is front and center for the steady flow of traffic and tourists. The store regularly has award-winning chefs and authors come through their doors as they vacation in the picturesque coastal town. “John T. Edge comes in when he’s in town and signs books, and Emeril comes through Seaside a lot—he has a house in Destin. Chris and Idie Hastings will come through when they do something new as well,” noted Blanchard.
While the store hosts book signings, it doesn’t traditionally hold many cookbook events. This doesn’t affect its ability to move cookbooks, though. “We do sell a lot of regional southern cookbooks,” Blanchard said, noting that the store had recent successful signings with Brys Stephens (The New Southern Table) and Donald Link (Down South).
While Blanchard said that they “sell a lot of everything” at Sundog, having regional books and signed copies on hand helps. “We do really well with those when there’s big stacks of autographed books. One of our favorite cookbooks is Seasonal Florida by Jo Manning—we always have signed copies of it—and it’s full of a lot of Panhandle recipes with lots of history.”
Another big seller is Seaside Pastels & Pickets by Seaside Town Council Inc., a book featuring recipes from residents of Seaside. “We also sell a lot of vegan and paleo and vegetarian, since we have the farmers market out front,” said Blanchard. When it comes to holiday shopping, there are always standbys like The Joy of Cooking, but according to Blanchard, any and all of Ina Garten’s titles “move, period.”
One of the biggest advantages to having been with Sundog Books for so many years is the freedom Blanchard has to purchase books she loves. “I’ve worked for Bob and Linda for 13 years, and they let me order whatever I want. I love Mark Bittman, and I sell a lot of his stuff.” In fact, many books sell based solely on recommendations from Blanchard or another bookseller. “Handselling makes a good memory.”