Best Independent Bookstores in Seattle

Bookstore | Photo by Géraud Gordias on Unsplash
Jacklyn Grambush

With an average of over 200 non-sunny days per year, Seattleites are well-versed in indoor activities such as reading. Add that to the city’s exceptional history with coffee and we’re off to a great start with independent bookstores. To capitalize (yay for writing puns) on these advantages, the Emerald City embraces Independent Bookstore Day with its own SEABookstore Day. Let’s rifle through some of the best the city offers.

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Ada’s Technical Books and Café

For learning in a community setting and satifisfying “the geek in all of us”, check out Ada’s Technical Books. If you get so distracted you miss a meal, you can wander over to their café for food that’s made in-house and prepared to order.

Book Larder

Book Larder, the “community cookbook store”, specializes in all things food: cookbooks, related author events, and cooking classes to name a few. “Make yourself at home around our big kitchen counter.”

Elliott Bay Book Company

Arguably one of the best known bookstores in town, the 44-year-old Elliott Bay Book Company claims to have Seattle’s first bookstore café. Offering more than 150,000 titles and over 500 author readings per year, this is the place to gather.

Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery

One of the few independent comic publishers to keep up with the likes of Marvel and DC, Fantagraphics has pursued and supported comics as a “legitimate form of art and literature” since 1976. The bookstore and gallery offers an exhibit that changes approximately every month and often has out-of-print books available in store.

Open Books: A Poem Emporium

Situated in a renovated bungalow, Open Books carries over 10,000 new, used, and out-of-print books of or about poetry. They hold readings and workshops regularly, all of which are free. The 21-year-old business was sold to Billie Swift in 2016 when the original owners retired. She was a regular patron who bought the store to preserve the poetry sanctuary that had become so important to her.

Queen Anne Book Company (QABC)

If ever an independent bookstore was beloved by a community, it’s the Queen Anne Book Company. After the previous bookstore closed in 2012, the Queen Anne community sprang to action with help from other independent Seattle bookstores, publisher representatives, and local book distributors to open the QABC in 2013. Check them out for free events and readings, book groups, and partnerships with schools.

Left Bank Books

Part of Seattle’s radical community, Left Bank Books has been collectively operated since 1973. Essentially, for the core staff, no one is anyone’s boss, all responsibilities are shared, and decisions are made in bi-monthly collective meetings. Sponsors of the Books to Prisoners programs, some of their popular titles include The Long, Long Life of Trees by Fiona Stafford, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Maree Brown, and A is for Activism by Innosanto Nagara.

East West Bookshop

As a non-profit organization created by members of Ananda, East West Bookshop focuses on spiritual traditions revolving around the mind, body, and spirit. As “a resource center for conscious living”, they offer classes on meditation and yoga in addition to their collection of books.

Twice Sold Tales

The title of this used bookstore is actually quite punny considering the several cats that live inside. The owner of Twice Sold Tales, Jamie Lutton, is a tenacious spirit, well-educated in literature, who plans to keep paper books around for a long time.

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