Seattle’s Elliott Bay Books writes a bold new chapter

Good news for travelers to that sprawling town on Puget Sound. Seattle’s Elliott Bay Book Company isn’t going out of business, after all: It’s relocating in the spring from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill. Melissa Allison has the story in the Seattle Times.

logoAt 20,000 square feet, the new building (at 1521 10th Avenue above downtown) will be smaller than the one in Pioneer Square but will have more shelf space because of better layout. Plus, it’ll have lots of nearby parking and good foot traffic day and night. And it won’t have the Pioneer Square grunge factor or the business-killing onslaught of baseball and football fans to the nearby stadiums on game days.

Elliott Bay has anchored this part of town for 36 years, and if it isn’t quite on the level of its fellow independent, Powell’s City of Books in Portland, it’s been an outstanding book store and a great place to hang out. I love its warrens, its smarts, the walk down that giant stairwell to get a cup of coffee downstairs.

The place feels civilized, an oasis from the intransigent seediness nearby and the commercial clatter to the north, although it is itself of course a commercial enterprise. The place has personality, and in a different building that will change. I’m guessing, though, that store and customers and new space will adapt to one another fairly rapidly.

Every now and again I take the train to Seattle, and I’ve loved being able to walk from the train station up to Elliott Bay to see what’s new, and also what’s old. Like all good bookstores, it’s a comfort and a stimulation.

I won’t be walking up to Capitol Hill, so my visits to Elliott Bay will probably become less frequent. But I’m thrilled that the store has found a new and hopefully friendlier location.

Much as I admire and enjoy it, Elliott Bay Book Company isn’t for me. It’s for the people of Seattle (including the illustrious and well-read OED, Mr. and Mrs. Scatter’s Older Educated Daughter). May it live long and prosper.