Emerald City’s Literary Haven: The 15 Best Bookstores In Seattle

While many believe that technology has taken over and books are absolute, that’s not always the case. Bookstores are open all over, and new stores regularly open in other locations. Many people know Seattle as the Emerald City, and the abundance of bookstores makes it a literary heaven for novel readers.

The best bookstores in Seattle include:

  1. Elliot bay book company
  2. Twice-sold tales
  3. Left bank book collective
  4. Third-place books
  5. Magnus books
  6. Ada’s Technical Books And Cafe
  7. Kinokuniya Book Store
  8. Open Books: A Poem Emporium
  9. Brick & mortar books
  10. And more …

The 15 Best Bookstores in Seattle to Cozy Up & Read

1. Seattle’s Largest, Elliot Bay Book Company

The Elliot Bay Book Company is Seattle’s equivalent of Powell’s Bookstore. This bookstore has been operating since 1972, and they have built up one excellent reputation in the years passed. The store has had the original cedar wood bookcases since it first opened, and the shelves survived the move in 2010 from their original location in Pioneer Square to the current one in Capitol Hill.

Elliot Bay is right across from Cal Anderson Park, which is convenient since you can grab a book from the store and head to the grassy heaven to enjoy a day of reading in the sun. The bookstore also has an onsite cafe that serves impressive muffins, salads, and coffee. The coffee shop also has interior seating space for days with bad weather to enjoy a coffee and your book on a comfy chair.

Usually, the store puts together a display of books by an author visiting them soon. Elliot Bay holds many events yearly, attracting crowds of locals and tourists. The store’s open layout showcases its plethora of books, and the atmosphere is welcoming and friendly.

The Elliot Bay Bookstore is massive and in the middle of Capitol Hill. While they have a wide range of books, they also feature magazines and stationery. This bookstore is wheelchair accessible, and the vast spaces between the shelves ensure a comfortable shopping trip through them.

2. Read Among The Cats At Twice Sold Tales

Many people also know Twice Sold Tales as “The Bookstore with Cats” due to several friendly felines walking and lounging inside the store. The neon sign on the window attracts attention from bypassers and ensures you can’t miss it when you don’t know the area well. Twice Sold Tales sells a wide variety of good-condition second-hand books.

This bookstore has two locations in Seattle. Their primary location is Capitol Hill, and their other store is in the University District. For over thirty years, this store has been selling used books in these areas, and they are one of the most recommended independent bookstores in Seattle.

  • Location – 1833 Harvard Avenue, Seattle, Washington
  • Phone number – 206-324-2421
  • Website www.twicesoldtales.com
  • Operating hours – Monday – Sunday (11 am to 8 pm)

Twice Sold Tales is a small bookstore with limited seating space, so while you can enjoy your book on a nearby chair, you might want to sit at the nearby cafe when they are busy. The aisles along the shelves are narrow, but the store is still wheelchair accessible.

3. Less Is More At Left Bank Books

Pike Place Market is home to this political and philosophical heaven bookstore called Left Bank Books. While the store sells mainly political and philosophical books, they also have nonfiction, poetry, and literary fiction. They support the Books To Prisoners program, which provides much-needed reading material to inmates throughout the United States.

While Left Bank Books doesn’t sell any popular or bestselling paperbacks, you can find a range of exciting reads here and enjoy a drink or meal at one of Pike Place Market’s many restaurants and cafes. Outside, the store might be busy, but once you get inside, the peaceful atmosphere will surround you.

  • Location – 92 Pike Street, Seattle, Washington
  • Phone number – 206-622-0195
  • Website www.leftbankbooks.com
  • Operating hours – Monday – Saturday (10 am to 7 pm)

Sunday (11 am to 6 pm)

You can read a book upstairs where they have a little reading nook that looks down into the street. The store has 70 sections with over 10,000 books to choose from. Like many other independent bookstores around Seattle, this store has been operating since 1973 and still flourishes.

4. Fun Community Involvement At Third Place Books

Third Place Books sells various new and used books at three locations around Seattle. Their central location is in Ravenna, but they also have stores in Lake Forest Park and Seward Park. The store’s hours also vary depending on the area, so it’s best to check their operating times before you visit.

Third Place Books is a massive store with plenty of extras inside. The main store has an outdoor patio with tables and chairs for you to enjoy a coffee from their indoor cafe. The cafe serves Mediterranean food, but a pub and a designated reading/working area are underneath it.

  • Location – 6504 20th Avenue NE, Seattle, Washington
  • Phone number – 206-525-2347
  • Website www.thirdplacebooks.com
  • Operating hours – Monday – Sunday (9 am to 8 pm)

The bookstore hosts many literary events and activities like knitting clubs and live music. Third Place is all about including the community in their store and providing excellent reading material with a lively atmosphere. The main store in Ravenna has been selling books since 2002, and they have a wide selection of historically significant reading materials that cover topics like LGBTQ+ and Black studies.

5. Sell Your Old Books At Magnus Books

The outside of Mugnus Books is the main attraction to this bookstore, with beautiful vines covering the entire front side. This bookstore is on a corner in the University District of Seattle. They resell many rare and used books which they buy from the community.

The atmosphere in the store is warm and comforting, just like an old used book. Even when you’re not looking to buy a book, you can stop by to sell some old ones you might have and not use. Due to its small size, the store has little seating space, so enjoying your book at a nearby cafe might be better.

  • Location – 1408 NE 42nd Street, Seattle, Washington
  • Phone number – 206-633-1800
  • Website www.magusbooksseattle.com
  • Operating hours – Monday – Sunday (10 am to 8 pm)

Magnus Books has over 70,000 books purchased from the community that they resell. Since the store is small, moving around during busy times might be challenging, so you might want to go when you know it will be quiet.

6. Geek Out At Ada’s Technical Books And Cafe

Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe is perfect for any tech geek. This bookstore has many computer and engineering manuals to learn almost anything about the criteria. They also have architecture, math, science, and sci-fi books and cater to those with a thirst for knowledge in these departments.

You can find wood puzzles and electronic kits at Ada’s. These unusual items make great gifts for your nerdy friends or personal souvenirs. Many know this bookstore as a geek-friendly haven, and it’s worth a visit, especially when you’re from out of town.

  • Location – 425 15th Avenue, Seattle, Washington
  • Phone number – 206-322-1058
  • Website www.adasbooks.com
  • Operating hours – Monday – Sunday (8 am to 8 pm)

The in-house cafe has a great menu and delicious food to enjoy. There is ample seating space inside and outside the bookstore to sit and relax while reading. You can find this bookstore in the Capitol Hill neighborhood among the many other shops and a few similar bookstores.

7. Japanese Culture At The Kinokuniya Book Store

The Kinokuniya Book Store is the perfect place to get Japanese books. However, they also sell books with English titles and various Japanese magazines. This bookstore is inside the Uwajimaya Asian grocery store, where you can conveniently find all kinds of magazines, books, manga, and writing supplies in the same space.

It’s enjoyable to browse the shelves and tables around the shop even if you can’t read Japanese because there are so many exciting things to look at, such as gel and fountain pens, beautiful stickers, coffee tables, and art books. The shop also sells an exciting variety of calendars and organizers. Here you can find the perfect present for your Japanese enthusiast friend.

  • Location – 525 S Weller Street, Seattle, Washington
  • Phone number – 206-587-0160
  • Website www.usa.kinokuniya.com
  • Operating hours – Monday – Sunday (10 am to 8 pm)

While they mainly carry Japanese books and magazines, you can also find many K-POP CDs and merchandise in-store. The first floor of the bookstore has Japanese titles, and the second level has English titles, comics, and anime/game-related items.

8. Poetry And More Poetry At Open Books: A Poem Emporium

Open Books is a poetry lover’s dream come true since they are one of the only bookstores in Seattle that deals exclusively in poetry. You can find this newly moved store in Pioneer Square among the hustle and bustle of the busy city. Not only do they sell new books, but you can also find some of the rarest out-of-print poetry books you’ll struggle to find anywhere else.

The store has a cozy collection of couches to enjoy your book in a peaceful and quiet atmosphere. The Open Books bookstore has over 10,000 titles, and you can also pick up a few bargains since they sell used books. You can attend one of the free regular readings and workshops.

The bookstore is roughly 21 years old, and the original owner sold it in 2016 when she decided to retire. The new owner often visited the store and decided to buy it to protect the haven for poetry that had grown essential to her.

Sunday (12 pm to 4 pm)

Monday – Tuesday (Closed)

Open Books also has a Palor where you can access a beautiful and quiet workspace without the distractions of the busy city around you. You can hire it for a month, an hour, or a few hours to write, read or think about work ideas. When you book it for a month, you will have twelve hours of private time in The Parlor, and the Writer’s Block package is four hours.

The Parlor has access to wifi, temperature control, a comfortable chair, and a large table to place all your documents or stationary you might bring with you. The Victoria record player will allow you to listen to calm music while you work, and they also provide a kettle with tea and mugs.

9. Children Will Love Brick & Mortar Books

Brick & Mortar Books is in the center of Redmond town, selling a wide selection of books for everyone. However, while you can find a book for just about anyone’s taste at this store, they are famous for their extensive collection of children’s books.

The Eastside of Seattle lost many bookstores over the last few years, and many thought they would never return. However, Dan Ullom opened the Brick & Mortar in 2016 with his wife and two children, who love reading. He is a former teacher of fourth and fifth-grade children with a great passion for books.

  • Location – 7430 164th Avenue NE, Suite 105, Seattle, Washington
  • Phone number – 425-869-0606
  • Website www.brickandmortarbooks.com
  • Operating hours – Monday – Saturday ( 10 am to 8 pm)

Sunday ( 11 am to 7 pm)

This bookstore gives off a childlike wonder when you step into it, with colorful books decorating the shelves. Small seats line the windows to glimpse and browse at books quickly, but overall, the store is not big, but it has enough space for plenty of customers to walk around and browse the shelves.

Brick & Mortar hosts many in-person events that are typically free. The bookstore staff also have lists of recommended favorites for every customer they encounter. For example, they have young adults, picture books, and signed copies. They also keep their upcoming releases prepared for promotion.

10. The Renewed Queen Anne Book Company

The Queen Anne Book Company is cozy and inviting in a quaint neighborhood with little traffic and fewer people. The outdoor patio is an excellent location to sit and enjoy your book while sipping a drink from the Queen Ann Coffee Company near the bookstore. This bookstore is ideal for sunny days and rainy weather since the inside seating is also lovely.

The Queen Ann bookstore sells new books of every genre, but they especially like keeping contemporary fiction and children’s books. They do special orders for no extra charge, usually arriving within 3 or 4 days. The staff is happy to recommend books for any occasion, such as gift-giving or book clubs, and they are knowledgeable because they have read all of the recommended books.

  • Location – 1811 Queen Ann Avenue N, Seattle, Washington
  • Phone number – 206-284-2427
  • Website www.qabookco.com
  • Operating hours – Monday – Friday (10 am to 6 pm)

Saturday – Sunday (10 am to 5 pm)

The store opened in 2013 after the previous Queen Anne Books closed in 2012. This bookstore will make you feel at home, and you can find unique books on every shelf. If you’re having trouble tracking down “that” book because you’ve forgotten the title or author, the knowledgeable staff is ready to assist you.

11. Pair Your Book With Wine At Drink Books

The Drink Books is an independent bookstore famous for the unique experience they bring to your books. They expertly pair a bottle of wine with a book that matches it. And nothing is better than a good bottle of wine and a relaxing book on the couch.

Drink Books specializes in lyrical, nonfiction, literary, and experimental fiction while also dabbling in books from smaller presses. Book lovers focusing on language and a taste for the unusual will love this store. The owner Kim Kent founded the bookstore in 2019, where it first started as a club and later progressed into a shop.

  • Location – 5817 Phinney Avenue N, Seattle, Washington
  • Phone number – N/A
  • Website www.drink-books.com
  • Operating hours – Wednesday – Saturday (12 pm to 7 pm)

Sunday (12 pm to 6 pm)

Monday pop-up (4 pm to 8:30 pm)

Kim Kent hand-picks all the titles, emphasizing those written by women, trans, and non-binary people. She then selects a wine that she thinks will go well with the book and what feeling it gives you while reading it, for example, dark or broody. The owner has moved onto pop-ups and plans on later doing art shows and readings.

12. Get Affordable Reads At Mercer Street Bookshop

Mercer Street Books is a second-hand bookstore with affordable prices on their reading material. They sell a selection of nonfiction and fiction books with various subgenres. The small, organized store will make you feel welcome among the wood shelves while you browse for your next good book.

Mercer Street Books is in the Lower Queen Ann area, and they have been in business for about 40 years. Since the store is a bit tight in space, you can’t enjoy your book there, but you can go to a nearby cafe or park to enjoy your novel in the sun with a coffee. Due to the limited space, no events or readings are held at this bookstore.

  • Location – 7 Mercer Street, Seattle, Washington
  • Phone number – 206-282-7687
  • Website www.mercerstreetusedbooks.com
  • Operating hours – Monday – Saturday (12 pm to 8 pm)

Sunday (11 am to 7 pm)

The owner of Mercer Street Books is friendly, welcoming, and happy to help with anything you need. While this bookstore might not be the biggest in Seattle, and they also have fewer books than others, it’s worth a visit since the atmosphere alone makes it a pleasant trip, and you might also find a few rare books at a great price.

13. The Pet-Friendly Secret Garden Books Bookstore

Secret Garden Books is a general bookstore catering to every type of reader, but they do have a specialty in children’s books. What makes this bookstore even better is that it’s pet friendly, meaning you can browse through its shelves in the company of your four-legged best friend. The store sells new, used, and sometimes antique children’s books.

Secret Garden Books has been trading in books since 1977, and they are over 45 years old, which is a massive milestone for any shop. They maintain a busy schedule of community activities, including author readings, school book fairs, and citywide cultural celebrations.

  • Location – 2214 NW Market Street, Seattle, Washington
  • Phone number – 206-789-5006
  • Website www.secretgardenbooks.com
  • Operating hours – Monday – Friday (11 am to 6 pm)

Saturday – Sunday (11 am to 5 pm)

The Ballard district of Seattle, where Secret Gadren Books sits, also contains several cafés, art galleries, boutiques, and coffee houses. So while the bookstore doesn’t have much seating space inside, you can find a few places around it to enjoy your book.

Their staff includes young adult and general readers with years of experience to help you choose the perfect reading material. In addition, the store also offers complimentary gift wrapping and discounts to book clubs and educators.

14. Meet Local Celebrity At Phinney Books

The owner of Phinney Books is Tom Nissley, a former employee of Amazon and Microsoft. He is almost a local celebrity in the area since he is also the eight-time winner of Jeopardy, a game show where he earned over $340,000 in prizes.

After Tom Nissley won the games, he quit his job and opened a bookstore in Phinney Ridge, Seattle. Phinney Books makes the most of its limited square footage by prioritizing selection over quantity. The store’s children’s section is extensive, and many recommend the nature books section, and you can enjoy all these new books at the back of the store on some comfortable chairs.

  • Location – 7405 Greenwood Avenue N, Seattle, Washington
  • Phone number – 206-297-2665
  • Website www.phinneybooks.com
  • Operating hours – Monday – Saturday (10 am to 7 pm)

Sunday (12 pm to 5 pm)

The unique Phinney by Post book subscription service is one of the many reasons customers keep returning to Phinney Books. Phinney by Post is where the bookstore staff sends monthly books to the subscribers. This store has been taking over the local bookstore in North Seattle since 2014.

15. The Grand Staircase At Ophelia’s Books

Ophelia’s Books is a used bookstore in the Fremont area. They have been doing business for over twenty years and sell books of all genres. When you decide to take a trip down to Ophelia’s, clear your schedule since it will take you at least a few hours to review and take in their wide selection of books.

While the store might look small from the outside, you’ll see how big the space is once you get inside. The shop has limited seating space, but you can stop at a nearby cafe and read your book while enjoying a coffee or a simple lunch.

Upstairs is a loft dedicated to children’s and young adult literature, while the first floor is mainly for adult fiction and literature. The basement of this bookstore houses an impressive factual, historical, and fantastical section accessible by a tightly twisted spiral staircase. Many customers find climbing the stairs frightening, but others say it adds character and appeal to the store.

  • Location – 3504 Fremont Avenue N, Seattle, Washington
  • Phone number – 206-632-3759
  • Website www.opheliasbooks.com
  • Operating hours – Monday – Sunday (12 pm to 7 pm)

Ophelia’s is a great place to look for books no longer in print or from foreign countries. The store also buys used books from the public, so if you have a few lying around in your way, you can get rid of them at Ophelia’s, where they will resell them to a novel lover again. There are also regular events at this bookstore which they advertise on the website.

Conclusion

Emerald City's Literary Haven: The 15 Best Bookstores In Seattle

Seattle has plenty of independent bookstores which locals and tourists support throughout the year and come from all over to visit. The Elliot Bay Book Company is the largest bookstore with the most books. You can find almost any book at their store. However, there are a few smaller bookstores around Seattle, like Phinney Books, Magnus Books, and Left Bank Books.

These bookstores have unique aspects which attract customers to them. For example, Twice Sold Tales is a relaxing bookstore where you can read a book with a cat on your lap, granted, if you’re not allergic. Third Place Books involves the community in games and various clubs to attract more attention and gain more customers.

About the author

My name is April, and I’m a Seattle-based writer, traveler, and foodie. I started this travel guide blog to share my passion for Seattle with fellow travelers and locals alike.

Whether you’re looking for the best coffee shops, the trendiest restaurants, or the most scenic hiking trails, I’ve got you covered.

When I’m not writing or exploring Seattle, you can find me watching movies with my husband, reading, or gardening with my dog in the backyard.

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