We were saddened but not surprised to hear last week that our dearly beloved Elliott Bay Book Company is moving house from its venerable Pioneer Square location to new digs on Capitol Hill. Elliott Bay isn't just a bookstore; for us, it's something more like a church. We've been perambulating its creaky wooden aisles since we were in diapers, and walking through its front door feels like coming home for us in the same way as seeing the tall blue Olympics on the horizon or catching the salt breeze off the Sound. We used to daydream about the day we'd be the one standing at the author podium making bad jokes to a packed house. If we try hard enough we can still smell the cedar bookshelves and the dry clean scent of old books. All of our best-beloved first editions are former denizens of Elliott Bay's shelves, and some of our favorite author stories (the THINGS WE COULD TELL YOU about that SLEAZY ASSHAT William T. Vollmann, Author-friends!) come from our brief stint as a bookseller and events staffperson there, where we palled around with the likes of before-they-were-famous Zadie Smith and Michael Chabon, and one time got to bring Margaret Atwood a glass of water. We spent every day with people who, like us, care more about some books than about most people, who can correctly answer questions like, "Can you tell me the name of that book with the yellow or possibly pink cover that I think was about either Africa or marshmallows and used to be on the left-hand side of the bottom shelf over there?", who are hands-down some of the smartest and funniest and weirdest and joyfully crankiest people we've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Y'all are welcome to your e-readers and your Brave New World, dear ones; we'll take real people, real books, and real community. As long as places like Elliott Bay continue to exist, we can rest a little easier, knowing there is somewhere at least in this world we will always be at home.
Moving is not an end; it's only a change. We'll miss that immense old place and its secret passageways, odd little nooks, and crooked stairs; but more than anything, we want to see one of the greatest bookstores in the country survive. You are in our heart, Elliott Bay, and we wish you the very best of luck in your new home. We'll definitely still visit.