An August 2004 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater study officially ranked Seattle the second most literate city in the nation, right behind Minneapolis. (The lowest, you ask? Don’t mess with El Paso, Texas.) Cities were rated on a multitude of factors.
Booksellers are just one part of the “literate city” equation, but it’s an area where we excel. In Seattle alone, there are 109 non-chain retailers selling books, according to Thom Chambliss, executive director of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (PNBA), based in Eugene, Ore.
That’s a lot of independent-minded thinking right here in the daunting shadow of Seattle-based online bookselling giant Amazon.com. But for many of these booksellers, the issue isn’t whether Seattle and the Puget Sound area support literature. It’s about where we buy our books, and why.