A select list of a few of the longer-lasting Seattle shops that sell new books (in some cases, alongside used ones).
The Seattle bookstore community had a hard time of it during the aughts, losing beloved stores like Bailey/Coy on Broadway, M Coy downtown and Jackson Street Books in the Central District — and it’s still no easy trick to keep an independent bookstore running. (Recent losses include Seattle Mystery Bookshop downtown and Mockingbird Books in Green Lake.) But, as new bookstores continue to dot the landscape (the latest: Madison Books, currently operating as a holiday pop-up before its full opening in March), here’s a tribute to a few of the longer-lasting ones that sell new books (in some cases, alongside used ones):
University Book Store: The great-grandparent of every Seattle bookstore opened in a cloakroom at the University of Washington’s Denny Hall in 1900, selling books to students. It’s been at its current main location on the Ave since the 1920s; other branches are located in Bothell, Mill Creek and Tacoma.
Eagle Harbor Book Co.: Originally called Betty’s Books, this Bainbridge Island stalwart opened in 1969 in a 500-square-foot space on Winslow Way. Now it’s in a location two blocks away and nearly 10 times bigger.
Island Books: In business on Mercer Island since 1973, Island Books is currently owned by Laurie Raisys, a former bookseller in the store who took over when previous owners Roger and Nancy Page retired. It’s one of those bigger-than-it-looks-from-the-outside stores, with a vast and thoughtful array of books and an unusually creative assortment of gifts.
Elliott Bay Book Company: A lot of us remember Elliott Bay from its original location on Main Street in Pioneer Square, where it occupied a pleasantly floor-creaking series of rooms from 1973 to 2010. It’s now on Capitol Hill, with the same wood shelves, inventive parade of visiting authors and hey-did-you-read-this bustle.
Secret Garden Books: Formerly a children’s bookshop near Green Lake, Secret Garden has seen some changes over the years: new ownership, a move to NW Market Street in Ballard, and an inventory shift toward general (i.e. grown-up) books. It continues to have a strong children’s book selection, and celebrated its 40th year in business last year.
Third Place Books: The Lake Forest Park outpost of this beloved local chain celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018. Ravenna Third Place opened in 2002, followed by Third Place Books at Seward Park in 2016.