I grew up in an Everson farmhouse with a library in a space my grandfather had used as a home legislative office. My mother’s father loved reading, learning, and being surrounded by things of beauty, so he selected not only “books” but beautiful books for his collection. He had the speeches of famous orators who inspired the speeches he gave on the state’s Senate floor.
When many libraries closed at the start of COVID, lots of local book lovers turned to in-person or online book shopping to fulfill their need to read. Bellingham resident Lorie Lechner Inge says she didn’t do as much reading as she would have liked during the COVID lockdown, but estimates that about “eighty percent were used books from used bookstores.”
She’s not alone. Used bookstores offer discounts and more options that appeal to readers, especially for series that may no longer be in print.
Village Books and Paper Dreams
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 their retirement, they turned over the ownership reigns 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 welcomes shoppers outside the front door.
While Village Books is known for its new books on three floors, it also carries a number of used books. In fact, about half of the store’s stock is new books and the rest is made up of used and bargain books. Discounted books are mixed together on Village Books’ shelves alongside new titles, marked by a green or yellow dot on the spine and a price sticker on the cover.
You can learn more about Village Books’ used book buying policies and program here.
Village Books is happy to ship orders. “Our online orders process has grown exponentially during these past 18 months and we’re so happy that so many have discovered this service,” says Paul Hanson. “We have dedicated staff processing orders every hour that we are open. Additional services through our website include personal book recommendations (no algorithms here), custom care packages (we’ll be your personal shoppers), and home delivery (Kelly will jump on her bike and ride it over to you).”
116 Grand Avenue in Bellingham
Upon entering Henderson Books in downtown Bellingham, a block from Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, the number of books can be a bit intimidating or awe inspiring. In all, there are around 300,000 books in its current 6,500 square feet of space.
Signage indicates the specific subcategories of history by region, philosophy by ideology, art and architecture by type and location, gardens, mysteries, and more.
This institution has existed in more than one location in downtown Bellingham for more than 30 years, but in the current space for over 20. It can feel a bit maze-like; side rooms seem to just appear.
A bookseller sign sits outside: “Always buying fine books, individual volumes or entire libraries.”
It isn’t just books, either. Hendersons sells small collectibles, buttons, and postcards. The more valuable books are kept inside a glass cases and staff may need to pull a ladder to get to the uppermost shelves. One staff member mentioned esteemed glass artist Dale Chihuly was a regular visitor at one time to add to his own collection there.
Eclipse Bookstore and Fine Art
1104 11th Street in Bellingham
Each morning, owner David Carlsen opens the doors to his store at the edge of the historic Fairhaven district and brings out a large assortment of eclectic favorites to set up out front, weather permitting. Carlsen opened Eclipse Bookstore in 1990—also in Fairhaven, where Renaissance Celebration is now located—and moved into its current spot in 2000.
Like other used bookstores, Eclipse carries a lot of books. You’ll find them on shelves and also in innumerable large piles next to the shelves, which adds to the bookstore’s charm. Don’t feel overwhelmed; Carlsen knows where things are, and he is happy to help. The collectibles are closer to his workstation.
This building offers lovely views over the water—behind the books. On the main floor, cookbooks, gardening, and art and architecture are prominent on one side of the space. Many are definitely coffee table variety. Don’t forget to explore downstairs, as well.
Katz! Coffee and Used Books
513 Front Street in Lynden
For decades, this storefront hosted office supplies and Christian books as Lynden Book Shop. In 2005, is added personality by opening up the old wooden floors and skylights and changing its name to Katz Used Books and Coffee. The smell of roasting coffee is ever present.
Owners Ken and Sherri Stap, who make their home above the store, make their mark beyond the doors of their store with the “flower trees” in downtown Lynden as part of the Downtown Lynden Business Association.
Christian books still have a place in these shelves carrying about 30,000 books, but the mix is “a wide array—all topics,” Ken says.
Sherri has arranged playful vignettes of books and props throughout the store. The back room offers incredible discounts. Comfy couches, chess sets, and conversations are present. It’s not the place to be quiet. It’s a place to meet friends.
Editor’s note: Don’t miss Griffintown’s Cozy Corner Books in Ferndale, as well!