Many independent bookstores around the nation have had to close due to today’s world of e-readers, big box chain stores and faceless online retailers. In Washington however, a few have weathered the storm and continue to thrive. From general interest to specialty shops, we compile a list of must-visit bookshops in the state of Washington.
Located in eastern Washington in the city of Spokane, Auntie’s Bookstore has been providing book lovers with used and new books since 1978. The largest independent bookstore in the area, Auntie’s is located in the heart of downtown in the historic Liberty Building. Something for everyone, this store carries books on everything from art to juvenile fiction to literary classics plus so much more. They also host several events each month, including book groups, workshops, poetry readings and book signings to name but a few. Children will also love this bookstore, especially on Saturdays, when there is storytime.
Located in Yakima in Central Washington, Encore Books is a locally owned bookstore with something for everyone. Primarily dealing in used books, Encore features a selection of new works as well, including best sellers and hard-to-find books. From biographies to history to romance to cookbooks and more, voracious readers can spend hours perusing the shelves of this shop, which features over 150,000 titles. For those on a tight budget, Encore also has a bargain table where books are .25¢ or $1.00. They host special events throughout the year as well, which can be found on their website.
Situated in the historic Stadium District in downtown Tacoma, King’s Books is a large 6,000-square-foot space owned by sweet pea Flaherty since 2010. A beloved independent bookstore, the shelves are filled with an array of used, rare, out-of-print and new books on every subject imaginable. Bibliophiles will not have a hard time finding what they want at this friendly shop, which has approximately 200,000 volumes in stock. The store also presents several events each month ranging from book clubs to author talks to craft fairs and more all of which can be found on the website. Be sure to give some love to the handsome store cat, Atticus, when visiting.
Located in downtown Olympia, the state’s capital, in the old Olympia Glass Building, Last Word Books is a multifaceted venue with an eclectic array of used and rare book offerings. Founded in 2002 by a group of students from The Evergreen State College, this shop is not only a bookstore but also a print shop and publishing house. The subjects literary buffs will find include everything from alternative politics to classic literature to do-it-yourself options. As their website states, ‘Books are a gateway drug,’ and Last Word Books is a great place for readers to satisfy their craving.
Left Bank Books is a unique store in that it is collectively owned and operated by its workers — they work together and make decisions together making everyone an equal. Established in 1973 in Seattle, this small Pike Place Market bookshop features a host — approximately 10,000 — of new and used books for people’s reading pleasure. A specialty store, they specialize in anti-authoritarian, independent works and small-press titles to name but a few and feature 70 sections within their store, including feminist studies, immigration studies, race and culture, poetry and native studies.
Locals looking for an enthralling whodunit know to go to Seattle Mystery Bookshop, a wonderful shop located in Pioneer Square specializing in all things mystery. Realizing that Seattle needed a mystery bookstore, Bill Farley established the shop in 1990 and while he is still involved with it, JB Dickey is the current owner. The bookstore has numerous collectable, used and new works and a staff with a passion and wealth of knowledge to find something of interest for everyone, including the youngest mystery readers. Seattle Mystery Bookshop also hosts numerous events throughout the year mainly in the form of book signings.
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Located in the heart of Capitol Hill, The Elliott Bay Book Company is Seattle’s most iconic independent bookstore selling new books and bargain editions. Founded in 1973 by Walter Carr, this family-owned venue presents guests with a warm, inviting and open interior full of cedar shelves filled with approximately 150,000 offerings providing book lovers with hours of browsing. They also sell a variety of other items, including magazines, journals and books on tape to name a few, featuring many events throughout the year such as children’s storytimes, book groups and author readings. A café is also present where visitors can sample a host of sweet and savory items and espresso drinks.
Created specifically as a place in Lake Forest Park where the community could gather and celebrate their love of books, Third Place Books is a general interest bookstore in which everyone will find something to spark their interests. Indeed, they have about 200,000 new, used and bargain books available at any given time. A fun and comfortable venue, guests will also find a large common room plus five restaurants where they can take a relaxing break from perusing the never-ending bookshelves. Keeping the community in mind, the bookstore also presents storytime for the little ones on Fridays plus author talks, readings and signings.
Located in the historic Fairhaven district in Bellingham, Village Books presents bookworms with three floors of new, used plus bargain books. Founded in 1980, the independent bookstore carries a wide range of subjects ensuring that there is something for every reader. Within a welcoming environment, guests are free to take their time and browse the aisles and if they would like to, they can relax in a comfortable chair while taking a closer look at those books that peak their curiosity whereas children can get comfortable on floor pillows and look at their selections. As with all the other amazing bookstores, Village Books also hosts many events each year featuring regional, national and international authors.