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Seattle's Elliott Bay Book Company announces major move

December 9, 2009 |  6:56 pm


Elliott Bay Book Company, a landmark independent bookstore in Seattle, announced tonight that it is pulling up stakes. After 36 years, it will move from Pioneer Square, downtown, to the highly urban Capitol Hill neighborhood. Owner Peter Aaron writes:

When I first became involved in the ownership of Elliott Bay eleven years ago, it was because I believed fervently that this gem, which had been "my" bookstore since I first moved here twenty-seven years ago, was worth saving -- that it was a precious asset that must and, in fact, could flourish in this city -- if anywhere on earth.

Like many independent bookstores, Elliott Bay has been struggling with multiple pressures -- chain stores, online competition and the economic downturn. Additionally, Seattle insiders have been frustrated by downtown parking challenges, panhandlers and -- Dan Savage, at least -- its basement reading room.

The new site will be on 10th Avenue in Capitol Hill, between Pike and Pine. It has basement parking -- perhaps because it was, back in the day, a Ford service center. From the Elliott Bay announcement:

We will be moving into a beautiful vintage building on 10th Avenue between Pike and Pine. The building dates from 1918 -- and was the original Ford truck service center for Seattle. The space will be comparable to the current store (in fact a bit larger), and will incorporate a café and a room dedicated to author appearances. It has the fir floor -- complete with creaks -- we’re used to treading, and gorgeous high wood ceiling -- including massive wood beams -- and skylights. While no space could exactly duplicate the charm of the original store, I can promise that the new building will offer a warm, comfortable and cozy environment that will be true to the beautiful place Walter Carr founded on Main Street.

A possible move has been rumored for months, and Seattleites seem to be split about whether or not it's a good idea. While the bookstore will be missed in Pioneer Square, it will also be welcomed in Capitol Hill. Not only does the neighborhood have a strong commercial district, a lively nightlife and lots of pedestrian traffic, but it lost longtime indie Bailey/Coy Books last month, after 26 years.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Courtesy Elliott Bay Book Company