The Market is home to five independent bookstores―BLMF Literary Saloon, Lamplight Books, Left Bank Books, Lion Heart Book Store, and Chin Music Press―each with their own unique focus and vibe. Whether you’re looking for a bestseller or searching for an out-of-print title, helpful shop owners and staff are there to point you in the right direction.
1. BLMF Literary Saloon
Looking for poems written by cats? A Star Wars travel guide? Maybe a book on how to survive a sharknado? You can find those and more at BLMF Literary Saloon located in the Lower Levels of the Market. Books fill the windows, line the shelves, pile around the floor and frame the checkout counter behind which you can usually find owner and operator JB. Originally JB only planned on buying and selling books for two years but “two years became five, five became 10 and now I’m a lifer.” All book recommendations are individually tailored, so if you’re looking for something to pick up but don’t know what to read, ask JB he’ll find the perfect book for you.
2. Left Bank Books Collective
On a nice sunny day, light filters through the windows of Left Bank Books Collective, illuminating the cozy reading nook on the second level of the store overlooking the cobblestones of Pike Place. Founded in 1973 as a self-proclaimed "anarchist book store," Left Bank Books Collective does not have a single owner but is instead ran by a collective of volunteers who meet bi-monthly to discuss shop operations and describe the store as "probably the best place on Earth." Serving up revolutionary literature, fiction, poetry, periodicals, zines with over 10,000 new and used books, there’s no shortage of radical inspiration.
3. Chin Music Press
As soon as you step into Chin Music Press you’ll find yourself in a carefully curated world of books and art. The natural light pouring from the large windows and the soft, tranquil music playing in the background creates an open gallery-like feel to the space. According to co-founder Yuko Enomoto, Chin Music Press publishes books they feel are worthy of being read, creating visual and tactile works often from first time authors. Enomoto recommends King of the Worlds by M. Thomas Gammarino and White Elephant by Mako Idemitsu.
4. Lion Heart Bookstore
If you find yourself drawn into a store where the owner is singing, reciting poetry, or making guests laugh, you’re probably in the Lion Heart Bookstore. David Ghoddousi is the fifth caretaker of Lion Heart which has been located in the Market’s Lower Levels since 1961! Carrying children’s books, poetry, philosophy, local history and more, Lion Heart is open every day of the week, so come on by!
5. Lamplight Books
Searching for a rare, out-of-print title? Tucked away in the Sanitary Market Building, Lamplight Books has specialized in used books since 2003. “It’s always fun in the bookstore. It’s one of my favorite places to hang out.” says Joe Fridlund who took over ownership in 2013. Literary translations are the main focus of Lamplight, although you will find plenty of popular fiction, nonfiction, classics and vintage kids books here too. Pull up a stool, relax and spend a while scanning the spines for your next literary journey!