Elliott Bay Books Reopening

After all the anguish and analysis about why venerable Elliott Bay Book Co. left Pioneer Square, let’s not lose sight of some retail fundamentals. If a bookstore can’t pay the rent, its customers—meaning the lack thereof—are to blame. Not the lack of parking, not the panhandlers, not Amazon or its Kindle (or Apple’s iPad). I’m looking at you, readers of Seattle. You can buy your books online, grab them while grocery shopping at Costco, download them in electronic form, or you can patronize our city’s dwindling indie booksellers. But if you instead go to merely browse, or to hear a visiting author without buying the book, or only purchase a muffin in the café, don’t go whining about beloved cultural institutions dying. Bookstores aren’t museums. They’re not libraries. They’re only as viable as their sales. And those who attend today’s free block party, which celebrates EBB’s reopening, should bear that in mind. In addition to the food and music, Anchee Min will read at 7:30 p.m. from her new novel Pearl of China, which imagines a friendship between Pearl S. Buck and a young Chinese woman that spans the late imperial period through the revolution. It costs $24 in hardcover. Because everything has a price. BRIAN MILLER

Thu., April 15, 4 p.m., 2010

 
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