Much like books, local bookstores each have a unique and compelling story to tell. Nestled in nearby neighborhoods all around Spokane there are many one-of-a-kind shops with a unique selection of used and new books.
All these stores are community driven and community supported. They put on events and sales that not only help their business but help find forever homes for all their books.
2174 N. Hamilton St.
Page 42 is located right up Hamilton Street from Gonzaga and is owned by a current GU student Emily Peterson, along with co-owners Alicia and Jacob McCann.
“Our mission is to maximize our community impact,” Peterson said. “That’s visible in everything we do. We give away more books than we sell. If you need something from us and you need a book set or are looking for one and can’t afford it we are always willing to make deals with our customers and help people out. We’re community oriented.”
Peterson said their store is the low-price leader in Spokane, with about 80% of their inventory being $3 or less.
“Our goal is to make reading really accessible,” Peterson said. “So, every four to six weeks in the summer we do 25 cent sales where we have 5 to 10 thousand books and whatever doesn’t sell gets funneled back into the community. We donate to the jail and the prisons, we fill little free libraries, things like that.”
Peterson and the other employees set up the books all the way around the perimeter of their shop so people can purse the stacks at a safe distance. These sales make books more accessible to the community and also helps the store turnover their inventory quicker so they can make room for new books.
“Our books, if they weren’t on our shelves would probably be in a landfill,” Peterson said. “With the way that people tend to get rid of books, if you donate to some thrift stores a lot of what you’re donating ends up in the trash and you don’t even know it. Our goal is to stop that from happening as much as possible which is why we find different funnels back into the community to make sure every book has a chance to find a permanent home.”
Giant Nerd Books
607 W. Garland Ave.
Giant Nerd Books is currently in the process of moving from Monroe Street up to the Garland District because they were in need of a bigger space to store their collection of books.
“Largely, I just try to run a kind of bookshop I’ve always enjoyed spending time in,” said Nathan Huston, owner of Giant Nerd Books, in an email. “If I’m not bored, great. If other people aren’t bored as well, even better! I emphasize lesser-seen authors, titles and genres: in my place, you’ll find very few of last year’s bestsellers. Best compliment I ever got was from an old friend who said ‘it’s just like a real bookstore but there’s no crap filling the shelves!’”
He said that his store’s inventory is about 80% used books and 20% new. The term “donation” makes Huston uncomfortable because he would rather buy or trade books. He continued saying people can come in during the store’s buying hours to trade in or sell their books. This not only helps the shop but it stimulates the local economy.
“[There are] so many reasons to shop local... first and foremost, it keeps money in your local community, providing wages for employees with mouths to feed and bills to pay,” Huston said. “Shopping local encourages diversity of thought and opinion, by supporting smaller businesses who might have more to say and thus making a greater impact on local communities.”
As Giant Nerd Books moves into its new location Huston hopes to have “fresh art shows” and a grand re-opening in the store’s parking lot in the near future.
907 W. Garland Ave.
When you walk into Book Traders you don’t realize just how large it is until you begin to meander among the shelves and realize that you just keep walking and it never seems to stop.
This store specializes specifically in book trading, as the name implies. What this means is they buy books for 50% of the original cover price in exchange for store credit. With that credit you get a discount and pay between $1 and $2 for books.
You can shop without store credit but the books just cost a bit more, ranging from $2.50 to $10.
“[What makes us unique] is probably our large selection,” said Karin Degner, owner of Book Traders. “We have a wide variety of things. We’re one of the largest in Spokane and then our trade policy is we give you the most amount. We don’t sell at the cheapest but we do give you the most credit.”
This store also has a long history. It has been in its current location since 1992 and first opened in 1982. They have been trading and donating for many, many years.
“It adds to the community because it’s a place to learn, a place to gather, many people do author readings and signings, so you’re getting a chance to meet those people,” Degner said. “Honestly for us what we do is we donate to the VA, nursing homes, free little libraries, all these resources that people are looking for when they can’t afford a book or they can’t get out, we’re supporting those businesses as well.”
402 W. Main Ave.
Auntie’s is probably the best known local bookstore in Spokane because of its long history and location in the heart of Downtown Spokane in the Liberty Building.
This shop sells a little bit of everything and both new and used books, with a lot of local inventory.
“Auntie’s is a Spokane institution,” said Kerry Mayer, the assistant manager of Auntie’s Bookstore in an email. “It’s the largest independent bookstore in Spokane, and it has been around in some form for over 40 years.”
They also host many events highlighting local and national authors throughout the year. This year they’ve been doing quite a few virtual events. Recently they sold books for the Get Lit! festival and participated in the launch of Kate Lebo’s book “The Book of Difficult Fruit.”
Soon they will be participating in a multi-bookstore release of “Sorrowland” by Rivers Solomon on May 8.
They sell just about any book you need and if they don’t have it they can order it in for you.
“We carry most hot new books, and sometimes we might even get a few signed copies,” Mayer said. “In addition, we can usually special order most books that are currently in print and available from our distributor.”
Overall, all these stores want to support their community as much as they can. They all also mentioned that students can benefit from these stores by selling their textbooks to them, coming to their events and spreading the word about what’s going on at the stores.
“Shopping for books is an experience,” Peterson said. “It’s something different than shopping online. There’s something magical about going into the bookstore and searching through the aisles until you find what you’re looking for.”