While I was in the University District last week visiting a few of the bookstores participating in Independent Bookstore Day on April 29—for a piece that comes out in tomorrow's paper—I stopped into Magus Books, because it's one of the happiest, most book-jammed, most ivy-covered corners in the city. While there, I ran into a local celebrity of sorts.
I was making the rounds asking booksellers for the craziest, most bizarre, most beautiful things they've witnessed in their stores over the years. I was on my way to University Book Store. But I love Magus, and I thought: Why not stop by? Even though it's not one of the 19 participating bookstores in Independent Bookstore Day (no used bookstores are), I decided to go in and ask if they had any stories they wanted to share. But the guy behind the counter was so overwhelmed processing a huge stack of used books he'd just bought that he didn't have time to chat.
So I started browsing.
"Excuse me, are you David Pichette?" I said.
"Yes," he said.
I told him I was out visiting bookstores collecting stories, and asked if he felt like commenting on Magus Books. He said sure.
"When I first came to Seattle 35 years ago, I used to spend all my free time in used bookstores. There used to be half a dozen within a few blocks of here. But this is one of the only ones left," he said.
"I love it here. It's a really knowledgeable staff. I've bought a lot of books here over the years."
I asked if there was anything in particular he bought here that he treasured, and the first thing he thought of was "an affordable, complete collection" of Richard Hakluyt's history of all the English explorers.
"There's nothing else like holding a book in your hand—particularly when at least one other person has read it. It's not only your history but someone else's."
"It's also a great place to take books," he pointed out. "I have a credit since the last batch."
He said he was happy I might give Magus some attention because it's one of his favorite places in the world.
"It's hard not to waste an entire afternoon here. You wander through and find things you never knew you were interested in."