5 Questions for Elliott Bay Book Company

Elliott Bay Book Company opened as a small shop in Seattle’s Pioneer Square in 1973. A half-century later, Elliott Bay, now in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, is the city’s largest independent bookstore, housing more than 150,000 titles. Tracy Taylor is Elliott Bay’s co-owner (along with Joey Burgess and Murf Hall).

ZYZZYVA: What’s the coziest spot in your store for reading?

TRACY TAYLOR: Inside the castle in the kids’ section. It’s hidden and carpeted and when the store is quiet, it’s bliss.

Z: What’s a little-known fact about your store?

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TT: Most of the windows at the bookstore were broken during the Mardi Gras riots of 2001. Within an hour of having them replaced, the Nisqually earthquake rocked the city and we had to replace the same windows again that day.

Z: How would you describe the smell of your shop?

TT: In the morning the smell of baked goods from the café overpowers the smell of paper, glue, cardboard, and wood. We are very dog friendly, so on a rainy Seattle day, you may get the scent of an occasional wet but very happy canine.

Z: Which new book would you recommend most to readers?

TT: Rebecca Makkai’s I Have Some Questions for You. I read the galley last fall and have been biding my time until I was able to put this in readers’ hands. It’s current and smart. I think fans of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History will be delighted.

Z: Aside from your own, what’s your favorite bookstore?

TT: I cut my teeth at Tattered Cover in Denver, both as a young customer and then as a bookseller in my mid to late 20s. Its owner, Joyce Meskis, shaped who I am as a bookseller, and is largely responsible for the career path I chose. The bookselling world lost a gem when she passed away last year—she affected so many lives in our community.

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