Bookshop Superheroes: Third Place Books—Seward Park
August 31, 2021
In appreciation of our local indies who have reinvented their processes and protocols during the past year in the service of getting the just-right book into the just-right hands, our Bookshop Superheroes blog series features interviews with our partner bookstores.
Third Place Books: Seward Park just celebrated its fifth anniversary in May. As the third location of Third Place Books, their Seward Park location continues the Third Place mission of providing a gathering space for its community. Located in south Seattle, home to some of the most diverse zip codes in the country, they pride themselves on being a place where their community can come together to celebrate their neighborhood’s commonality as well as its diversity.
Below, we speak with Kim Hooyboer, General Manager of Third Place Books: Seward Park, who has formerly worked at Elliott Bay Book Company, Powell’s Books in Portland, and WORD Bookstore’s Jersey City location. Kim gives us the history of the Seward Park location and shares her thoughts on the past year, some of her favorite books, and what she loves best about the shop.
How have you coped and pivoted since the pandemic?
Prior to the pandemic, our Seward Park location built a diverse and robust in-store book club program, with nine separate book clubs meeting in our store every month. In the early days of COVID, while our incredible events team was busy pivoting three stores worth of author events into the virtual realm, our Seward Park staff was able to transition six of our clubs onto Zoom (and we’ve just added a seventh!). Bookstores are built on connection: connecting readers with books, with authors, and with other readers. The pandemic made those connections so much harder to achieve, but our virtual book clubs are my favorite of the many ways we’ve found to continue forging those connections. These meetings have been such a salve for my soul during the last year and a half, and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to connect with our brilliant, caring, and clever community every month.
What’s your favorite thing about your shop?
My favorite thing about any bookstore is the bestseller display. It’s a mystical combination of newly-released titles, store events & book clubs, literary trends (hello BookTok!), and bookseller recommendations (the Staff Picks display is my second favorite thing about any bookstore). Ultimately, though, the bestseller list is a reflection of the community: their values, their interests, their curiosities, their lives. The first time I came to visit our store, I was immediately struck by the bestseller display at Seward Park. I don’t remember specifically what was on the bestseller list in March of 2017, but I distinctly remember the feeling I had upon seeing the list: I knew that I wanted to serve this community.
What books or book events are you excited about right now?
My partner and I have been taking a lot of short road trips this summer and we always pick out an audiobook from Libro.fm beforehand based on the amount of driving time. We drove down to Portland over the weekend and listened to Sarah Gailey’s The Echo Wife (chills, thrills, and extramarital affairs with clones!). In print, I recently read and loved Kristen Radtke’s nonfiction graphic novel Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, a thoughtful and timely sociological study of our need for social connection. And I’m looking forward to re-reading In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, which our Queer Lit Book Club has finally selected for our September read after months of my pestering. 😀
Thank you, Kim and Third Place Books!