Bookstore Buys: Bailey/Coy Books

Located on Broadway, the strung-out nerve center of Seattle’s Capitol Hill, Bailey/Coy is an independent bookstore that defines “tightly edited.” They have far fewer titles on hand than most stores of similar size. Where they make their mark is the all-important Staff Recommendations and a growing graphic novels section. I’m not sure which bookseller it was, but in 2006 someone spotlighted Tom McCarthy’s Remainder. For that I am eternally grateful.

When I lived in Seattle (off and on between 2004-2006), I made several stops at Bailey/Coy. The more historic Elliott Bay Books was all the way in Pioneer Square; this one was my neighborhood spot. They have a great tradition of posting an uncredited book’s first sentence on a sandwich board; if you guess which title, you get 20% all your purchases that day.

What’s changed in the past few years? Well, they’re on Twitter, but then again so is everyone. Their website is badly in need of an update. For a store with such little inventory, it seems setting up e-commerce wouldn’t be too difficult. Though they could gain an advantage by focusing on their used book offerings, Bailey/Coy has an advantage many independents do not: the twentysomethings that populate Capitol Hill pay more to support local business when it comes to music, in evidence by Sonic Boom, Everyday Music, and Easy Street. If they took on a more focused “think global, buy local” attitude, they may see more business.

And why do I worry about their business? I may be reading this incorrectly, but I saw their depleted, mostly face-out fiction section as evidence of a reigning-in on inventory. Maybe they were simply between orders. I hope so. What I did see was a barely-there backlist and 50% less titles than the last time I visited a year ago. The store truly anchors their neighborhood, and I would hate to see it go.

Oh, and I bought Nick Harkaway‘s The Gone-Away World, since all my friends love it. I was hoping to also pick up Memories of the Future, but no luck.

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