An Interview with Ada’s Technical Books, Capitol Hill’s Haven for Geeks
March 2, 2020
What’s easily the best thing about our SAL offices being located in north Capitol Hill? We’re steps away from the beautiful, smart bookshop, Ada’s Technical Books. Our only bookstore partner that specializes in science-minded literature, Ada’s is named after Ada Lovelace, one of the world’s first computer programmers (and daughter of Lord Byron, to boot).
Ada’s is an amazing spot to get a cup of coffee, peruse their collection of DIY electronic kits and toys, and skim their science-obsessed selection of sci-fi, science biographies, computer guides, and more. To learn about the ins and outs of this store, we interviewed Jo Sepulveda, Ada’s Books Manager, below.
What makes your shop unique? Why does Seattle need a space devoted to technical books?
The breadth and variety of bookstores in Seattle is an unsung treasure of the city. Each of the almost thirty bookstores in Seattle have a specialized focus and offer a unique curated experience.
Seattle is a tech hub, and tech is a customer base that needs catering to. At Ada’s, current and potential tech workers are looking to understand the basics of computer science in a changing work environment, and school and after-school programs are looking to teach the same things to their students.
What might surprise someone about the ins and outs of running a bookstore?
You might think that working at a bookstore means a sleepy workplace with lots of quiet time to read and chat with your customers. Actually, between reordering, researching new items, creating engaging in store displays, managing the sales floor, and running our café, there’s always plenty to do. We all put a lot of work into creating a unique space where our customers can relax and engage at their own pace.
What’s something you wish people knew about your shop, or about your job as a bookseller?
It often surprises people to learn all the different things we offer at Ada’s. We’re a technical bookstore, and we’re also a café, vegetarian restaurant, co-working space, and private event venue. We also regularly host book clubs, meetups, and presentations. All these events and services are detailed on adasbooks.com.
Tell us a little about how you curate your bookstore! What makes you decide to order a title in?
After years of curating experience, it’s very intuitive at this point. A new title needs to get my attention with compelling subject matter, extensive experience with the subject of the book, and engaging writing. I look to highlight stories and experiences from women, queer people, authors of color, and those with social justice themes in all our sections. And I’m always interested to try a title we don’t usually carry if there’s excitement about it.
Do you have a personal favorite thing about your shop?
I love to overhear people talking about how much they love Ada’s. But for a physical thing I like about Ada’s, I love that we renovated the house we’re located in to match the neighborhood aesthetic. As someone who grew up on Cap Hill, who loves my neighborhood, it’s a touch that’s greatly appreciated.
What events at the store are coming up that you think people should know about?
With spring approaching, we have some very popular plant-focused workshops and talks planned. On March 11, we have an Herbal Tea Blending Workshop with local herbalist Angela Renzetti, and on March 19, our resident botany expert Orlando DeLange will be doing a talk on Seattle Botany A-Z. Tickets for both these events are purchased on our website.
Thank you, Jo!
If you’re a 2019/20 Subscriber, you’re eligible to receive 10% off your purchase of books at Ada’s—just flash your Subscriber Benefits Card as you’re ringing up. You can also catch Ada’s selling in the lobby at our event with environmental writer Elizabeth Kolbert on April 22 at Benaroya Hall.