In the 1990s, many booksellers considered series bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders to be Evil Empire – Big invasive companies Forcing independent local libraries out of business With their wide selection and great discounts. But Then the convenience and affordability of online retail outpaced the big book sellers, and Borders Books & Music closed all of its stores in 2011.. Barnes & Noble locations are now the only bookstore in many American cities, and as more B&N locations get closer, swathes of the country—particularly poor, non-white areas— desert book. a growing number of American towns and cities There are virtually no bookstores within a reasonable driving distance.
This fall, for example, when Barnes & Noble at 626 106th Ave. NE transformation operations To Crossroads Bellevue, there will be no downtown Bellevue bookstores. Nearby, Issaquah became a desert of books when the local Barnes & Noble closed at the start of the pandemic. But a couple of months ago, a comforting pair of Seattle Times readers alerted us by email that the literary drought of Asakuh was officially over when a new website from the national bookstore chain came out. book walls It opened in the Mall at 1025 NW Gilman Blvd.
Issaquah . book walls It’s exactly what it says: a storefront filled with tall, glossy white bookshelves stuffed with books. At the front of the store, you’ll find new, bestselling releases and new wraps along with puzzles, board games, and sidekicks like coffee mugs and stockings. But the majority of the store is filled with affordable used paperbacks of every type and theme.
It’s a particularly great library for hardcore readers – people who usually have multiple books per week. “We have regular customers already,” Issaquah Walls of Books owner Gil Vaughn says. Some of them will get one or two books a week, after which they will return them for circulation next week. And then some of them will come maybe once a month and bring a whole bag.”
Browse long enough and you’ll likely see one of those transactions—the customer is carrying a paper grocery bag full of freshly read puzzles, romance novels, or science fiction series, and eager to trade it in for a new bag of books to bring home. The store offers a credit of up to 50% of the price of used books in the store. “If a customer were to buy a used book for $4, they would always pay $2 out of pocket for the book and then the store credit would cover the other half,” Vaughn explains, adding that customers returning books with Walls of Books price tags on them “refund half of the purchase price automatically in the form of account.”
“We love the professions because they keep books on our shelves and customers feel like they’re getting a good deal for what they pay,” Vaughn says.
Vaughn has been living in Issaquah since 2019, and the Issaquah shop is her second bookstore in the area. She was a high school teacher in Georgia, but she wanted a change when her family moved to the Pacific Northwest. “I had no record of selling books before I opened our bookstore in Covington,” she says, “but I’ve always loved bookstores, and so I thought since we were moving into a brand new state it would be a great time to try something different.” “
The Vaughn family had been shopping a lot at the original store in the Walls of Books chain in Georgia, and decided that opening a franchise would be a good entry into the world of bookselling. Issaquah and Covington are the only Walls of Books outposts west of the Rockies—and the chain is largely concentrated in the South, with one store each in Kansas, Iowa, and Ohio.
For two and a half years, he kept Covington busy, and his success inspired her to keep an eye on spaces where she could open a store closer to home. “Our children go to school here in Issaquah, and we are members of that community,” she says. “We shopped at Barnes & Noble before it closed, and we’re really excited to be able to bring the bookstore here.”
Currently, Vaughn is training new employees to help run both stores and she’s learning the kind of books her neighbors love. She says Issaquah’s readers care more about political and sports books than her Covington clients. While she’s currently reading her way through all of Agatha Christie’s mysteries—”I think I’m deep into about 30 in these books, she reckons—Vaughn says clients recommend new books to her all the time, and it’s easy to get sidetracked. As a bookseller, “You have a lot of conversations with people about things you never expected to talk about. It’s really exciting to see other people who are passionate about books, and their enthusiasm is contagious.”
As a former teacher, Vaughn says, “Seeing kids come over and excited to read couldn’t make me happier.” Vaughn is looking forward to a regular Children’s Story event at both locations, and has already worked with school librarians in both Issaquah and Covington to order books for schools and “provide books and gift certificates to give to students who have achieved reading goals.”
When asked what she wants Seattle Times readers to know about her Walls of Books locations, Vaughn preaches the gospel about the art of neighbor bookstore. Maybe people in Seattle won’t drive to Issaquah to go to our library. But they have a library in their community,” she says. “So I would ask them to support the local bookstore. When they are gone, you will miss them.”
What are Walls of Books customers reading?
“Our most popular book right now is probably “Where do giraffes sing?” Vaughn says. Delia Owens’ new novel has been “one of our most popular books since we opened in Covington two and a half years ago, but the recently released adaptation has led to a rebound in sales.”
Vaughn says that customers are asking for Taylor Jenkins Reida novel “Evelyn Hugo’s Seven Husbands” On a daily basis. The novel explores the charming and tormented life of a bisexual Hollywood actress in the form of a final interview on the cusp of turning 80.
Young readers, Vaughn says, indulge in an obsession with graphic novels. “nannies club Graphic novel series and “dog man” Always popular”, the TV broadcast success of Jenny Han’s young adult novel “The summer you turned beautiful” It inspired an explosion in book sales over the summer.
Another writer we’re selling a ton of Colin Hoover Not any particular book. People Just Want Any Book” written by the young romantic novelist who rose to fame with the help of rabid fans on TikTok.