Store History


The Elliott Bay Book Company, an independent, family-owned bookstore, was founded in 1973 by Walter Carr in the space at 109 Main Street in Pioneer Square. In 1976, with the generous support of the Globe Building's owners and numerous friends of the store, we moved the store to corner of the building and took residence at 101 South Main Street. That original space was comprised of two rooms. In subsequent years we grew, room by room, to occupy five rooms with various nooks and crannies.

One of those expansions took us downstairs, and The Elliott Bay Café, Seattle's original bookstore cafe, was opened in 1979. This reader's haven, with its tasty foods, tempting desserts and beverages, and convivial setting, served as one of the city's meeting places from the day it opened.

In April 2010, after 36 years in the Pioneer Square neighborhood, we packed up everything—including the cedar shelves, excluding the floors—and relocated the bookstore to its current home at 1521 Tenth Avenue on Capitol Hill.

Part of the daily life of Elliott Bay for over a decade, our author reading series has now provided over 3,000 afternoons and evenings of poetry, fiction, and a wide range of nonfiction topics. Some of the world's preeminent writers have read here (in Japanese, Spanish, Arabic, French, and Estonian, among other languages). Here many of the country's most renowned writers are continually and centrally featured. As with many of the books we highlight, there are many authors who have read here as relatively unknown, and who have gone on to wider acclaim. Readers and audiences here have long been among the first to help move these writers and their work out into the larger world.

We publish a monthly list of our readings, as well as many literary events in the area. This flyer, with information on the month's authors and books, dates, times, and admission information, is always available at the store or on our web site, or can be obtained by email subscription.

We are also pleased to present our full-scale book review, written by our staff, on a bi-monthly basis throughout the year. Elliott Bay Booknotes includes brief reviews, in-depth features, and all sorts of tips for finding good reading. This publication is freely available on our web site.

An independent bookstore in the best sense of the term (meaning we're truly interdependent with our community and with you, our customers), we pride ourselves on being a knowledgeable staff of booksellers who do our best to locate just the books you are seeking. We also offer special order services, book group presentations, a fine selection of books on tape, signed first editions, magazines and journals, handbound books, limited editions, and more.

More than anything, we are sustained by the support, curiosity, and enthusiasm for reading that you, our readers, constantly demonstrate to us. For that we are more than grateful.

Please join us soon—whether it's a quick dash in for a particular book you already have in mind, or several pleasurable, mind-meandering hours of browsing.