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Spotlight on an Indie Bookstore: Queen Anne Books

July 2, 2012

Today, we’re thrilled to share a look at a fantastic Seattle independent bookstore, Queen Anne Books. Deanna fills us in on their history, what makes them special and so much more. In honor of Independence Day, why not visit an independent bookstore like Queen Anne? Staff at indies across the country can help you find the perfect summer read!

When I first started selling Random House Kids Books, in 1997, Queen Anne Books was a sleepy, small bookstore in a sleepy, small neighborhood. Seattle has obviously grown, the upper Queen Anne neighborhood (high on the hill next to the Space Needle) has become a hot spot, and the bookstore has grown with it.

In 1998 the store was purchased by two old friends that had met each other in jobs as nurses, Patti McCall and Cindy Mitchell. They turned the store into a vibrant community gathering spot, so much so that in 2004 they moved into a new location down the street. The new store (not so new anymore!) has about one third more space, plus they were able to design everything themselves from the bookshelves to the light fixtures to the layout (movable shelving!). The store is set back from the street a bit, so they have this lovely sign for the passerby:

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This is the courtyard in front of the store, next door is a (separately owned) coffee shop.

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I have to warn you not to let this picture fool you. I took this on one of the two sunny days we’ve had this spring, the rainiest spring on record in Seattle!

The kids section has also grown exponentially over the years as they have forged relationships with school, teachers and librarians. Here’s a shot of their middle grade table, featuring Crow, Rush for the Gold and all of those non-Random House titles! You can also see their great light fixtures and some of the funky bug art they have for sale.

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And here is their picture book display as of a few weeks ago. The Lonely Book, Boy + Bot, Bon Appetit and Scribbles and Ink are all recent faves of mine.

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This is the beginning reader/middle grade section, with my girl Ruby modeling her new favorite series, Babymouse!

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In 2008, Cindy sold her share of the bookstore in order to spend more time with her grandkids, and Patti became the sole owner.

This past year saw another ownership change as Patti gave up her beloved store and sold it to long time customer Katherine Hershey. You can read all about Katherine in the many local articles that appeared at the time including this one from the Queen Anne News. Queen Anne and the entire local bookselling community breathed a huge sigh of relief that there was someone willing to take on the challenge of indie bookselling in this very difficult environment. While stores all over the country have closed or are in jeopardy because of on-line competition, QAB is now has the distinction of being the closest bookstore to the new, mammoth Amazon campus.

Like most indies, their selection is curated by the buyers and staff, and they have a great section showing off their voracious reading habits. When they get behind a book they can sell hundreds of copies. One of the most dramatic examples of their influence was a book called Shadow of the Wind. They were evangelists for this book and I think they pretty much had all of Seattle reading it!

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This is not a superstore, this is a small store but packed to the gills with what the community is looking for. It’s the kind of warm, inviting store that seems to be disappearing at an alarming rate these days. Long live Queen Anne Books!

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We’ll be back July 6th with a great post from our monthly book blogger panel. Enjoy the holiday!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 2, 2012 8:26 am

    What a beautiful bookstore!!

  2. July 2, 2012 9:01 am

    Wonderful to see this store. Seattle seems to have a good share of Indie bookstores & I’m happy to see all about this one. I’m in Denver & we have a few great Indies, too, thank goodness!

    • Deanna permalink
      July 2, 2012 11:43 am

      Denver used to be part of my territory and it does indeed have some great bookstores. And not just Tattered Cover, though of course that’s one of the best and biggest indies in the country!

  3. July 2, 2012 11:09 am

    You did a fantastic job describing/showing what’s great about Queen Anne Books! I have been a children’s bookseller with B&N for 17 years and always visit independent bookstores when I can. I was on vacation a couple of years ago and staying down the street from QAB and spent a lot of time there. Their kid’s book section, while small, is superbly, and clearly lovingly, stocked. I discovered two of my new favorite picture books there – “Trouble Gum” by Matthew Cordell and “The Bog Baby” by Jeanne Willis. Long live the Queen (Anne Books)!

  4. Deanna permalink
    July 2, 2012 11:47 am

    Oh wow, I remember Bog Baby! That’s just the kind of book QA can get behind and sell a ton of, something that others may overlook.

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