Hilo Family Bookstore Basically Books Has Passion for Hawaii Stories


Honolulu (KHON2) – Hilo Family Bookstore ‘Basically Books’ celebrates 35 years with passion for sharing Hawaii’s stories.

David and Christine Reed and daughter, Stacey keep the family’s love of reading alive. “More than a bookstore. Staying alive…Since 1985” could be the motto for Basically Books. 

“Basically Books was actually born at our kitchen table on a whim,” shares Christine Reed. “My husband David and I had been running the family printing and publishing company, Petroglyph Press. We already had a selection of books, maps, stationery and gifts, and when a space opened up a few blocks away we decided to branch off and expand those sections into Basically Books. Our special focus has always been Hawaii and we try to cover that subject thoroughly.”

Basically Books evolved and adapted over the decades as the family grew and life changed and as Hilo grew and changed. “It’s really been amazing over the years watching new scholarship enrich the story of Hawaii as we know it. The number of books about Hawaii has greatly expanded since we first opened,” adds Reed. “We’ve really noticed the way that the community has come together in so many ways, especially around their local small businesses. This time has really made people aware of the impact that their choices make on their communities, their neighbors, friends, and family. We get new people in the store every day now, saying it’s the first time they have come in, and telling us directly that they are here because they want to help keep their local businesses alive.”
They laugh when customers tell them it’s the first time they have been in since moving to Hilo three years ago. “It’s especially delightful when we see people run into old friends and renew connections right in front of our eyes,” adds Reed. “Prior to Covid we hosted book events and mini music concerts, so we think of Basically Books as a gathering place where ideas are exchanged and minds are expanded. That is one of the things we miss the most and look forward to getting back to when the time is right.”

The store closed in March and decided to upgrade its old seat-of-the-pants inventory method into a computerized system that will include an online store in the new year. Their daughter Stacey took the lead. “We are hopeful and optimistic for the future,” says Reed. “Our new online store will expand our reach and allow new customers to find us. 

All around the world there is a resurgence of independent bookstores that reflect their communities. We know that reading is the key to lifelong learning. Readers are leaders. We want to make sure good books are a part of everyone’s lives.”

The store takes all safety precautions including offering hand sanitizer, asking customers to wear an appropriate face covering, and practice responsible social distancing inside the store.

“What’s hot for the holidays for keiki? “Right now we have a lot of educational toys and books. Science and craft kits are popular too,” says Reed. “here is a surprisingly large selection of Hawaiian children’s books from board books for the little ones to familiar picture books. Coloring books and origami are always favorites.

You can never have too many stuffies and our selection of plush includes familiar sea creatures like sharks turtles whales and even octopus. We have games and puzzles for grownups too. And of course the latest books about Hawaii from our local publishers. We also try to be attuned to what our customers are seeking by offering special orders and bringing in products that are requested.
Hilo is a center of Hawaiian language learning and it is not unusual to hear customers conversing in Hawaiian. Basically Books has a large selection of books in olelo Hawaii and sees great potential of expansion in this area.

The Reed family arrived in Hilo in 1958.

Website: basicallybooks.com

Social Media: @bbookshilo

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