It’s been a while since the Madison Park neighborhood was home to a bookstore; Madison Park Books closed its doors in 2005 after two decades. (The mid-aughts, it seems, was a rough time for bookstores.) But these days, things are looking brighter in the bookstore business — the number of indie bookshops has risen significantly in recent years — and Seattle’s about to be home to one more. Madison Books, owned by Phinney Books proprietor Tom Nissley, will open later this year at 4118 E. Madison St.
Nissley, a published author (“A Reader’s Book of Days”) and “Jeopardy!” champion, opened Phinney Books four years ago. Business has been good, he said, but he hadn’t quite planned on opening a second shop — until he was approached by lifelong Madison Park resident Susan Moseley. “She really was the driving force,” he said. “Ever since the old bookstore closed, I think she’s been trying to get a store back in the neighborhood. She’s a big reader, and she just knows what it adds to a neighborhood to have a bookstore in the middle of it.”
When Moseley suggested that Nissley might want to open a second bookstore in the 1920s-era building on East Madison, he was intrigued, and even more so after seeing the space. The building, much of which has been empty for some time, is currently under renovation. “One of the things that appealed to me is that it’s weirdly similar to our space (at Phinney Books) — just a miniature version of it. It feels like the same era, the same little windows across the top like ours, the layout is pretty similar.” He envisioned bringing the neighborhood feel of his shop to another part of the city, one that was eager to embrace a bookstore.
And he knew just the person to join him: James Crossley, who after 11 years at Island Books on Mercer Island agreed to become the manager of Madison Books this fall. “It’s a wonderful opportunity,” said Crossley this week. “I get to do what I’m doing now, but more so. Island Books is turning 45 years old, and it’s an amazing part of the community over there.” He was drawn by “the chance to start from scratch and begin to build something that might in later years have that same kind of effect on a different neighborhood.”
As the renovations at the new space continue, Nissley and Crossley have some planning to do: Madison Books will be significantly smaller than Phinney Books, “about a third of our size, and we’re already pretty small,” said Nissley. They’re thinking of ways to pack a lot of books into that space — Nissley’s envisioning “a sort of magical book place” with every nook and cranny filled — but want customers to know that what they don’t have on the shelves, they’ll get, quickly. Thanks to a much-improved books supply chain in recent years, Nissley said that 90 percent of customer orders can be in the shop within two days.
An exact date hasn’t yet been set for Madison Books’ opening — renovation timing being the inexact science that it is — but Nissley and Crossley are aiming for November, hoping to be open in time for the busy holiday season. I suspect Madison Park residents can hardly wait.
In other book news: mark your calendars for a couple of upcoming library sales. The Friends of the Shoreline Library present their annual book sale Sept. 21-23, to benefit the library’s programs. The members-only preview is 5-7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21 (sign up for membership at the book-sale entrance); public sale is 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22; and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23, is “bag day” — for $4, you can stuff a paper bag (supplied) with books of your choice. It all happens at the Shoreline Library, 345 N.E. 175th St., Shoreline; 206-362-7550, kcls.bibliocommons.com.
And while Friends of the Seattle Public Library’s legendary big sale doesn’t happen until March, a smaller version will take place this fall. The one-day “Better” Book Sale, featuring like-new books and DVDs (hello, holiday gift list) with prices starting at $3, will be 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at North Seattle College (in the old cafeteria, on the first floor of the College Center building). More information: 206-682-7567, friendsofspl.org/book-sales.