All day Saturday, our City of Literature will celebrate its love of printed, bound pages with the fifth-annual Independent Bookstore Day. Across the Seattle area, 26 indie bookstores will be throwing parties with activities, speakers, booze and snacks.
We asked three of those bookstore owners to share a favorite book about Seattle and a quote from it that they love.
Phil Bevis of Arundel Books (Pioneer Square)
He recommends reading: “Skid Road: An Informal Portrait of Seattle” by Murray Morgan
His favorite quote from the book: “The hills are so steep in downtown Seattle that some of the sidewalks have cleats.”
Fun fact: That quote is referring to Seattle’s original wooden streets, and the term “skid row” actually originated in Seattle.
On Independent Bookstore Day: Hear from author and winner of the 1990 National Book Award Charles Johnson while the store pours “perfectly chilled champagne” and hands out cookies and gift certificates. Phil says the day is also about the other people you’re going to meet: “They’re writers and designers and people active in the community… it’s just people who have an independent mindset.”
Tom Nissley of Phinney Books and (the newly opened) Madison Books
He recommends reading: “Memories of a Catholic Girlhood” by Mary McCarthy. (It’s her memoir of growing up in Seattle in the 1920s.)
His favorite quote from the book: “There was the time the house caught on fire while my grandmother was downtown shopping. When she boarded the Cherry Street trolley to go home (her house was way out, almost in the country, then), the conductor said to her, ‘Mrs. Preston, your house is on fire,’ and she arrived on the scene to find the fire engine there and (yes, she swore it) their one-eyed maid, Tilda, carrying the piano out of the house balanced, on one hand, like a tray; all the little boys in the neighborhood were sitting on the lawn, reading her love letters from my grandfather, which they had found in a bureau drawer.”
Fun fact: Tom won Jeopardy eight times, quit his job at Amazon (where he worked in the books department) and used some of the money from his winnings to open Phinney Books.
On Independent Bookstore Day: Tom will officially be opening his second store, Madison Books, in Madison Park. At the Phinney location, Tom’s wife will be hosting a make-your-own-pencil-case workshop at 11 a.m., and his sister will lead a sew-your-own-notebook workshop at 1 p.m. And throughout the morning, a store employee will be drawing customers’ faces on custom bookmarks.
Larry Reid, manager of Fantagraphics
He recommends reading: “Buddy Does Seattle” by local cartoonist Peter Bagge. (It’s a “parody of Seattle’s grunge phenomenon,” Reid says).
His favorite quote: A Seattle Weekly reviewer wrote, “Twenty years from now, when people wonder what it was like to be young in 1990s Seattle, the only record we’ll have is Peter Bagge’s Hate.”
Fun fact: Before opening a bookstore, Fantagraphics started out as a publisher. Today it publishes national and international cartoonists and artists. One of its more popular books was published last year: “Rock Steady,” by Seattleite Ellen Forney, is a graphic self-help memoir about living with mood disorders.
On Independent Bookstore Day: Larry says there will be colorful new bookmarks produced for the occasion, and from 1 to 3 p.m., two local artists will sign their new graphic novel called “Little Teeth,” described as, “an amusing and perceptive comic about a fictional queer community in the Pacific Northwest.”
How to make the most of the day:
The BIG discount: At any of the bookstores, you can get a passport. If you visit at least three stores (and get a stamp at each), you’ll get a 30 percent off coupon to use once at any participating store. If you visit *all* the bookstores, you’ll get a Grand Champion Card, which gives you a 25 percent discount at all the participating stores for a year. (Pro tip: You only need to get one stamp per store if it has more than one location). Seattle Times book critic Moira Macdonald wrote about her plan to hit all the stores this year and will be tweeting from the trenches.
Fun fact: In its first year, 42 people won the Grand Champion Card. Last year it was nearly 500. People get seriously competitive about this. Here’s one blogger’s tips on how to get all the stamps in 2017 and another blogger’s tips on how she did it in 2018.
Each store’s throwing a party: You don’t have to turn this into a literary crawl to enjoy the day — instead choose just one store to stop by, and check out their website or Facebook page to see what they have lined up.
Planning on going? Tag us in your photos with #theevergrey or if you want to take over our Instagram account, hit us up at [email protected].