Indie Bookstore Roar for University Book Store, Seattle
And now for an Indie Bookstore Roar! This month Melissa Barnes is here to roar for Seattle’s University Book Store, independent since (drumroll please!) 1900.
I work at University Book Store (University District, which is the main branch of the store). I work in the Children’s Department a few days a week as well as hosting & moderating events. Typically I host children and young adult authors, but sometimes I travel off-site to places like Starbucks, Google, or Town Hall to sell books for authors they are hosting. I have also worked with authors on school visits, where I set up pre-order forms for the librarians, go to the schools to sell the books, and help in any way I can once on-site.
The Skinny: What do you love most about your bookstore?
I love that we host SO MANY great young adult and children’s authors here. We are lucky to work with many publishers in order to be on the rotation for group/individual tours that travel the U.S. I also enjoy all the work I do with ReedPop on Emerald City Comic Con, as we are the official bookstore at the Con.
I have had a great time working with them to help organize panels, invite authors, and building up our bookstore booth.
A Mighty Bookstore Roar!
We are the community. Customers come here and we know each other by name. Sometimes we even know the day that they regularly stop in the store and have books ready for them. Plus, we are lucky enough to have a wide variety of official and unofficial book clubs that meet here, so there is a niche for everyone to find others with similar interests. We give people a safe place to go and just BE. Often you can walk into our cafe and see the same people on an almost daily basis, which means that they not only love our drinks, but they love the sense of community within our store.
A Pride of Programs
I wish everyone knew about the wide variety of items we carry in our store. Our name is pretty deceiving as it sounds as though we only carry textbooks and Husky items (The University of Washington mascot is the Husky), but in fact we have a huge supplies department that carries everything from fountain pens, fountain pen inks, professional artist products, architectural supplies, imported stationery, lunch boxes, dorm room items, and beautiful paper you can use for wrapping gifts, scrapbooking, or to put behind a print when you frame it. We also have a Tech Center where you can pick up recent video games, fitness trackers, and cell phone accessories.
We host over 400 events a year, sometimes multiple events in one night across a variety of venues. (Here is a link to one of the many panels I have moderated.
We also host various book groups including the Refined Reads club with KOMO. Refined Reads picks a different book each month from a wide variety of topics, back during the holidays they picked YA Author John Green’s new book “Turtles All The Way Down,” and for March they are reading “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Mason. Another one of my favorite clubs is the True Grace Book Club, which is hosted by my co-worker Grace Rajendran.
Grace picks a different non-fiction title each month and when able invites a speaker who is relevant to the book subject. One month they read a book about architecture and had a UW Professor from the School of Architecture come to the book club to answer questions!
A great author event centers around clear communication both with the store events staff as well as followers on social media. In fact, this handy article by local author and bookseller Lish McBride is a great resource for expectations and look at what to do/not to do. Tor New Author’s Guide to Book Events
I love hosting book events as they bring the community into our store, and we are able to build relationships with authors. Plus, we have a great event space in our store that we can set up tables for refreshments, swag, coloring pages, etc. that the authors bring with them for their readers.
“Today was my first time in the store, my daughter got a gift card for Christmas, and oh my goodness it was Husky Heaven! I loved the little coffee shop with the marshmallow whipped cream for my hot chocolate! I love that there is a little bit of Seattle in this store! Will definitely be back to shop.” -Renay
“Great place to visit. Excellent crew. Very knowledgeable. My favorite place to go to author readings.” John
“The employees were incredibly helpful and accommodating. The people in the cafe were willing to experiment to help me get something I’d like, and everyone in every department was incredible in their own way. I wish I lived in or closer to Seattle so I could go more often.” Kaci
University Bookstore Links
Thanks Melissa for the great Indie Bookstore Roar!