INTERVIEW: Danielle Hulton, Owner of Ada’s Technical Books

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During Geek Girl Con 2011, Shing of Sawdust Bear Press and I had the pleasure of sitting next to Ada’s Technical Books inside the exhibit hall. The owner, Danielle Hulton, was at the convention for the entire weekend and I found it really cool that she owned her own bookstore! I think most of us book lovin’ people have had dreams about spending the rest of our lives surrounded by books.

Below, I interview Danielle on her fabulous Lady Geek life as a bookstore owner in Seattle!

What makes Ada’s Technical Books different from the rest of independent bookstores? Where did the name come from?

DANIELLE HULTON: Ada’s Technical Books is a technical bookstore. This means that we exclusively sell books on Math, Computers, Science, and Engineering. We also sell children’s books on these topics as well as some Science Fiction and Biographies of scientists. Just like most independent bookstores, we sell lots of extra things besides books. Our “extras” are also focused towards the technically minded, so we have things like puzzles, molecule earrings, and geeky cards. Our tag line is “A bookstore for geeks, by geeks.”

The store is named after Ada Lovelace. Ada is considered the world’s first computer programmer. She was a mathematician in the late 1800′s and led a super interesting life. She gets the programmer designation from her work with a man named Charles Babbage. We named the store after her because a) we thought she needed a little more recognition for her work and b) we loved the idea of naming a geek bookstore run by a woman after one of the original woman geeks.

I think most girls with a passion for books have dreamt about owning their own bookstore. What is it like to run a specialty bookstore? What’s your favorite part about it?

DH: Running a specialty bookstore is so much work, but so, so much fun! Every day is a little different and I love it. I’m not sure if I could name one thing that is my favorite, but a few things that come to mind are being surrounded by amazing books all day, being a center for the geek community in Seattle, and all the interesting people I meet that just come into the store.

Do you have a least favorite part about running your own small business? What is your advice for people who are thinking about doing the same thing?

DH: My favorite part is probably being my own boss. I love the fact that Ada’s can be whatever I want it to be if I work hard enough. If I am able to imagine something, all I have to do is get working on it to make it happen.

My advice would be to go for it. Yes, research is important, but running your own business is always going to be a little risky and a little scary. How else are you going to know if it’s going to work though if you don’t try? 

What kind of books would you recommend to the general geek girl that they can find at your store?

DH: Oh, there are so many awesome books! One I just finished is “Pattern Recognition” by William Gibson. The protaganist, Cayce, has the best sense of style! I want to change my whole wardrobe now! I also love all books by Mary Roach. She presents such interesting science topics in really entertaining ways. Also, if you haven’t discovered the Girl Genious series, I would recommend you get on it today. (Although I must warn you, the next couple weeks may be taken up with reading the web comic).

We met at Geek Girl Con last year! How involved are you with the geek community? Can you tell us a little about yourself and your Lady Geek life? 

DH: Before starting Ada’s, I was a computer engineer. I studies electrical engineering and computer science in school Today, I am probably the most involved in the hacker/maker geek scene. That is definitely the community I identify the most with. I love to hang out at all the local hackerspaces here in Seattle (when I have time, which I admit isn’t all that much). I also love going to DefCon every year. My favorite hacker cons are the camps in Europe, CCC and HAR. My husband, David, runs an amazing series of hacker cons- ToorconToorcon SeattleWorldtoor, and Toorcamp. The second Toorcamp is coming up the summer and I can’t wait!
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Danielle Hulton is the owner of Ada’s Technical Books, located in Seattle, WA. She lives with her husband, David, two cats, Tesla and Eddison, and dog, Byron. You can follow her on Twitter, on Facebook or at her blog.

Visit the store’s website at:
www.seattletechnicalbooks.com

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You can follow the Space Pirate Queen on twitter @punkagogo.

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