Open open!

April 23, 2022

Great news! Open Books: A Poem Emporium has completed their move is now open for browsing, Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 5:00pm, at the corner of First and Cherry in Seattle’s Pioneer Square.

In addition to a superb collection of over 10,000 poetry titles, classes, and swag, the store now offers monthly membership in The Parlor for those who seek “a clean, beautiful workspace in Seattle, away from the clutter and distractions of home, for writing, reading, thinking, or co-working.”

Seattle City of Lit list

December 26, 2019

Here’s a new resource, just out from Seattle City of Literature: the Seattle Lit Community Catalog. The searchable online catalog offers (to date) 180 listings from Seattle’s books and writing communities. The geographic boundaries extend somewhat beyond the city limits (Tacoma, Bellevue). (See FAQs.) Browse them all, or enter a search term (e.g., books, poetry, conference, writers, publishers, etc.). Add yours.


April 27, 2018

Since tomorrow, Saturday, April 28, 2018, is Independent Bookstore Day, here’s another book bit: an illustrated article on 10 of the world’s best book towns in The Guardian.

Check your local independent bookstore for tomorrow’s author appearances and other scheduled events.

We were very sad to see that Patti Pattee of Watermark Book Company in Anacortes is turning a final page on the bookselling business. But there’s still hope for the independent bookstore: YOU! If owning a bookstore is on your bucket list, this could be your chance. See Pattee’s letter on NW Book Lovers and visit Watermark online or, better yet, in person.

big news in Bellingham

November 21, 2016

Village Books

Following is the full text of an email that arrived last night from Chuck and Dee Robinson:

On January 1st, 2017, the ownership of Village Books and Paper Dreams will transfer to three current employees of the business. While the news may come as a bit of a surprise, we assure you that the time is right for us to pass on the company to the next generation. There has been a net gain of independent bookstores in each of the last seven years, including our expansion to Lynden. Our business is doing well in Fairhaven and we’re thrilled with the success of the Lynden store. And, most important, we have the right team in place to carry this business forward. They not only have the talent and skills to operate the business, they are deeply committed to the community values on which this company has been built.

Kelly, who has been with the store for five and a half years, brings many years of general retail, buying, and interior design experience, and has worked in three other independent bookstores since 1989. She, in addition to her general management duties, has been the Gift Buyer and Merchandise Manager. Paul, who came to the company at that same time, first as the Community Outreach Director then becoming General Manager, was for fifteen years the Manager of Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge Island. Before that he worked for several years in bookstores in Illinois and in the Seattle area. Sarah began her bookselling career after college, becoming an inventory specialist for Borders. She came to Village Books and Paper Dreams eleven years ago and has been the store manager for more than seven years. Until recently she was also the children’s book buyer.

Dee retired from everyday involvement in the stores two years ago but has continued to be involved in all strategic decisions. Chuck, who in the past few years has worked more from his home office and in the larger community, will continue to consult with the stores over the next several years and direct special projects. He also intends to do some business consulting with bookstores and other retail businesses around the country. Both of us will continue our involvement with the Chuckanut Radio Hour.

We’re both in good health and we want to spend more time traveling, working in community organizations, enjoying our new home in Lynden, and reading the books we’ve stockpiled over the years. Dee has even begun to take up gardening.

A combination reception for the new owners and farewell for Chuck and Dee will take place at the Fairhaven store on Saturday, February 4, 2017, and at the Lynden location on Sunday, February 5. Kelly, Paul, and Sarah will also hold a series of meet-and-greets over coffee and pastries in Book Fare Café at Village Books in Fairhaven, and at Avenue Bread in Lynden during the month of February. Dates will be announced on the website and in email newsletters.

We will be eternally grateful to you for the support you’ve given us over the years and for helping us build a community of readers. We know you’ll continue to support Kelly, Paul, and Sarah as they continue to build community, one book at a time.


Chuck and Dee
Village Books and Paper Dreams
360-671-2626 • 800-392-BOOK (2665)

the making of a bookstore

October 26, 2016

Book Tree

It takes nerve, ambition, energy, cash, time, and plenty of other resources to open a brand new independent bookstore. So we’d like to be among the first to acknowledge and congratulate Christopher J. Jarmick and Mary Harris, who are putting the finishing touches on BookTree, at 609 Market Street in Kirkland.

Mary is the former owner of Parkplace Books, which closed in December after nearly 30 years. Chris is a prolific poet and organizer of readings throughout Cascadia. They are both “passionate about the inherent value of books, reading, writing, listening and sharing diverse ideas, and viewpoints.”

Their new store is emerging from a remodeled beauty salon and, we are assured, will host a new poetry series as well as a lot of exciting readings, workshops, and special events.

BookTree will celebrate their grand opening on Saturday, November 5, 2016. Watch the BookTree website and the brand new BookTree Facebook page for details and additional photos of the bookstore-in-progress.

rolling with the books

August 23, 2016

St Rita's Amazing Traveling Bookstore

If you’re a regular here at The Poetry Department, you know that we’re big fans of independent bookstores and now and then we mention some that are particularly cool. St. Rita’s Amazing Traveling Bookstore and Textual Apothecary falls into that category.

Based in Eureka, Montana, the van travels throughout Cascadia to fairs, festivals and neighborhoods to sell used books. Launched in June 2015, the bookstore on wheels was named for St. Rita of Cascia, the patron of impossible causes. With shipwright-worthy shelves — “The books stay on the shelves perfectly! Haven’t lost one yet even driving across fields, on gravel roads and across the mountains.” — plenty of books and cards, and a typewriter for people to try out (many have never touched one before), the Bookstore becomes a hub of activity for the duration of its visit.

See for yourself. St. Rita’s Amazing Traveling Bookstore and Textual Apothecary will be in Portland, Oregon, on Friday, September 2, 2016, 9:30am to 4:30pm, in front of Ace Typewriter at 7433 N. Lombard Street, and Saturday, September 3, 10:00am to 2:00pm, at 1448 NE 28th (near Fred Meyer). You can follow St. Rita’s on Facebook and read occasional posts on the Amazing Traveling Bookstore website.

say goodbye, say hello

August 20, 2016

Open Books

Seattle’s poetry bookstore, Open Books: A Poem Emporium, invites you to stop by after hours on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, August 26, 27, and 28, 2016, to say goodbye and thank you to longtime owners John Marshall and Christine Deavel and say hello (and thank you!) to new owner (and longtime bookstore friend), Billie Swift. The door will remain unlocked for two (or so) hours after the usual 6:00pm closing Friday and Saturday and 4:00pm closing Sunday.

Open Books

Back in early March, we posted the news that John Marshall would be retiring from the helm of Open Books, in Seattle, and the fate of the outstanding poetry bookstore was unknown.

Now, less than two months later, we are very pleased to share with you this update from John Marshall and Open Books:

“We are exceedingly happy to announce that the next owner of Open Books: A Poem Emporium will be Billie Swift. She has been an avid customer for years, has a sharp and inquiring mind, and is a truly engaging soul. We cannot imagine a better person to be entrusted with the future of Open Books. The actual change in ownership will take place at the end of August, but Ms. Swift will be a fixture in and around the store from now until then. Of course we’ll have a celebratory ceremony/party near the date of transfer, and we’ll count on your presence then, either in body or spirit. Between now and then, you’ll have ample opportunity to see us all (including on occasion Christine, who does the bookkeeping and pops in now and then). Please know that the store you love is still here and will go on, with your continued care and support. The amazing journey continues!”

Such good news. The store will be open until 7:00pm on Saturday, April 30, 2016, in honor of Independent Bookstore Day. Stop by and say congratulations (and pick up a few poetry books while you’re there).

Open Books

Seattle — and the entire region — is exceptionally fortunate to have a world-class poetry bookstore: Open Books. The contribution that John Marshall, Christine Deavel and Open Books have made to the poetry community is immeasurable. Yesterday, the following notice arrived, which is reproduced here in full.

Dear Friends of Open Books,

It is with mixed feelings that I tell you I will retire from bookstore ownership sometime this year. This spring will mark the 21st anniversary of Open Books as a poetry-only bookstore, as well as mark the 29th anniversary of my owning Open Books, which started life as a small general bookstore with a large poetry selection. Christine and I have built what we could and now are running out of the initiative to maintain and improve it.

What will happen to the bookstore? We don’t know. We would like to have it carry on, so we will pursue selling the store — its stock, its name, and perhaps a reasonable lease, since Christine and I own the building. There is considerable evidence that independent bookstores are having a resurgence in this country and that the sales of actual books will not sink beneath the waves of the e-book, an unimaginably freakish future some people somehow imagined. A new owner or owners may further establish Open Books as a great place to browse for poetry books and ephemera and as a cultural hub for those interested in printed poetry in the city, the state, and around the world. Christine and I hope to shop at Open Books. We rather suspect we will have that chance. If you know of potential next owners, please share this letter with them.

This transition need not happen quickly; the decision was not based on economics or health. Open Books will remain open regular hours, we will continue to order books and hopefully you will continue shopping here. By continuing to shop here you can be a partner to the store’s changing hands. We will seek new ownership for up to four months. If by the end of June new ownership does not appear possible, we will look towards other options.

My feelings are mixed. These last twenty-eight plus years have been amazing. I’ve learned more about poetry and people and even commerce than I could ever have thought possible. I am pleased that Open Books has been a place where aesthetic and personal eccentricities are valued — bookstores usually are, bless them all. The store has been, and will remain inextricably, my life. I will miss much of it, but I am ready to experience the pleasure of books and reading as entirely and solely personal. I may engage in the world of poetry as commerce again, and I may not. I am excited to learn by going where I have to go.

With great affection,


Open Books: A Poem Emporium
2414 North 45th Street
Seattle, Washington 98103
(206) 633-0811 /

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