I grew up on an Everson farm with a library in a space my grandfather used as a home legislative office. My mother’s father loved to read, learn and be surrounded by beautiful things, so he selected not only “books” but also beautiful books for his collection. He had the speeches of famous speakers that inspired the speeches he gave in the State Senate.
When many libraries closed at the onset of COVID, many local book lovers turned to in-person or online book purchases to meet their need to read. Bellingham resident Lorie Lechner Inge says she didn’t read as much as she would have liked during the COVID lockdown, but estimates that around “80% were used books from bookstores second hand”.
She is not alone. Used bookstores offer discounts and more options that appeal to readers, especially for series that may no longer be in print.
Paper Books and Dreams Village
1200 11th Street in Bellingham and Waples Mercantile Building in Lynden
Dee and Chuck Robinson founded Village books in Fairhaven in 1980 and opened a second location in downtown Lynden in 2016. Upon retirement, they ceded the reigns of the property to a triumvirate of employees: Paul Hanson, Kelly Evert and Sarah Hutton on January 1, 2017 .
The store, which is actually two connected businesses, also offers easy access to delicious food at Evolve Chocolate + Café and Colophon Café. A statue of Mark Twain greets shoppers at the front door.
While Village Books is known for its new three story books, it also offers a number of used books. In fact, about half of the store’s inventory is new books and the rest is used books and bargains. Discounted books are shuffled on the shelves of Village Books alongside new titles, marked with a green or yellow dot on the back and a price sticker on the cover.
You can read more about Village Books’ used book purchasing policies and program. here.
Village Books is happy to ship orders. “Our online ordering process has grown exponentially over the past 18 months and we are very happy that so many people have discovered this service,” says Paul Hanson. “We have dedicated staff who process orders every hour we are open. Additional services through our website include personal book recommendations (no algorithms here), personalized care packages (we’ll be your personal buyers), and home delivery (Kelly will hop on his bike and ride him to you).”
116 Grand Avenue in Bellingham
When entering Henderson Books in downtown Bellingham, one block from the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, the number of books can be a little intimidating or overwhelming. In total, there are approximately 300,000 books in its current 6,500 square foot space.
Signage indicates specific subcategories of history by region, philosophy by ideology, art and architecture by type and location, gardens, mysteries, etc.
This institution has existed in more than one location in downtown Bellingham for over 30 years, but in the current space for over 20 years. It can look a bit like a maze; the side pieces just seem to appear.
There is a bookseller’s sign outside: “Always buy beautiful books, individual volumes or entire libraries.”
It’s not just books, either. Hendersons sells small collectibles, buttons and postcards. The most valuable books are kept in display cases, and staff may need to pull a ladder to access the higher shelves. A staff member mentioned that esteemed glass artist Dale Chihuly was a regular visitor at one point to add to his own collection there.
Eclipse Bookstore and Fine Arts
1104 11e Street in Bellingham
Every morning, owner David Carlsen opens the doors of his store on the edge of historic Fairhaven and offers a wide assortment of eclectic favorites to set up up front, weather permitting. Carlsen opened the Eclipse bookstore in 1990, also in Fairhaven, where Renaissance celebration is now located and moved to its current location in 2000.
Like other used bookstores, Eclipse offers a lot of books. You will find them on shelves and also in countless large piles next to the shelves, which adds to the charm of the bookstore. Don’t feel overwhelmed; Carlsen knows where things are and is happy to help. Collectibles are closer to his workstation.
This building offers beautiful views of the water, behind the books. On the ground floor, cookbooks, gardening, art and architecture predominate on one side of the space. Many are certainly a coffee table variety. Don’t forget to explore the ground floor as well.
Katz! Used coffee and books
513 Front Street in Lynden
For decades, this storefront housed office supplies and Christian books under the name Lynden Book Shop. In 2005, personality was added by opening the old parquet floors and skylights and changing its name to Katz used books and coffee. The smell of roasted coffee is still present.
Owners Ken and Sherri Stap, who make their home above the store, are making their mark beyond their store doors with the ‘flowering trees’ in downtown Lynden as part of the Downtown Lynden Business Association .
Christian books still have their place in these shelves of about 30,000 books, but the mix is ”a wide range of subjects, all subjects,” Ken says.
Sherri organized playful vignettes of books and props throughout the store. The back room offers incredible discounts. Comfortable sofas, chess games and conversations are present. This is not the place to be quiet. It is a place to meet friends.
Editor’s Note: Don’t miss Cozy Corner Books from Griffintown to Ferndale!