The End of the Shop Around the Corner?

Not yet — locals say they still buy from indie bookstores

By Calise Cardenas November 30, 2009

What a dreary autumn for local independent bookstores. First comes the foreboding announcement that landmark Elliott Bay Book Company will likely move to cheaper digs on Capitol Hill when its Pioneer Square lease is up in January. Then, the owners of Bailey/Coy on Broadway tearfully closed their doors two weeks ago—after 26 years in business. (They’re having one last hurrah this Thursday.)

“The environment has been tough for the past decade,” says Walter Carr, the man who designed, built, and opened Elliott Bay (he sold it in 1999). Though he believes he left the store in “very good hands” and “understands and respects” owner Peter Aaron’s choice to switch locations, there’s more than a hint of melancholy when he talks about how much the original space—with its creaking, hardwood floors and winding walkways—will be missed.

Does this spell the end for the shop around the corner? Not quite. We asked a few locals where they prefer to buy books, and surprisingly, the answers weren’t all “Amazon.”

Katie Brennan. Photo by Kaitlin Nunn.

Katie Brennan
Server, West Seattle
Shops at: “Elliott Bay. It’s a great store, and it’s easy to get to.”

Harlan Douglas
Art director, Belltown
Shops at: “Elliott Bay or Borders. Elliott Bay’s been around for years, and it’s a good bookstore.”

Tim Hall
Teacher, Portland, Ore. (formerly of Beacon Hill)
Shops at: “I go the library! It doesn’t cost a thing. If not there, then Amazon—it has books for half the price of those in bookstores.”

Derek Wang. Photo by Kaitlin Nunn.

Jennifer King
Legal assistant, Renton
Shops at: “Half-Price Books.”

Cynthia Pagulayan
Office assistant, Fife
Shops at: “Barnes and Noble.”

Derek Wang
KUOW journalist, Ballard
Shops at: “I used to shop at Epilogue—it was a great Ballard bookstore, but recently closed. Now I go to University Bookstore because it’s easy to get to from where I live.”

Filed under
Show Comments