Do you know the meaning behind the name of our bookstore? I didn’t know the backstory behind it until I started working here as a bookseller, so I feel it’s important to bring it up. The name originates from a theory proposed by sociologist Ray Oldenberg that says every person needs three places: first is your home; second is your workplace or school; and third is your community. A place where people from all walks of life can come together and both experience and celebrate their commonality as well as their diversity. It is a ‘third place’.
That is what we want our bookstore to be, your ‘third place’. But as you all know, the pandemic started last March and forced the question, what does community look like during a pandemic? How can we be your ‘third place’ when no one can actually come together in our bookstores?
Well, after a LOT of learning, adapting, and creativity we now have some answers to that question (sort of). And since we are officially one year into the pandemic now, we thought it would be a good idea to reflect back on all the ways in which we actually have been able to cultivate community despite the pandemic.
We also want to say thank you to YOU. To everyone who showed up at our stores for curbside pickup at all three of our locations (Lake Forest Park, Ravenna, and Seward Park). To everyone who bought our ‘Shelter in Place’ t-shirts and 'I'm Reading Through It' face masks. To everyone who has ordered online and left positive notes in the comments section of your order. We appreciate all of your patience and support while we’ve had to change systems and protocols again and again. Thank YOU for adapting right along with us and constantly showing us that our 'Third Place' community still exists even if it has changed forms.
Virtual Author Events:
Our virtual author events have been a great way for readers, authors, and booksellers to connect from all over the world and discuss new books in a safe format. A big thank you to all of our customers and participating authors for your collective patience with Zoom and the inevitable technical difficulties that entails. It's also been really nice to have these fun events to look forward to every week and see people interacting in the chat.
Virtual Book Clubs:
Since lockdown started, our Seward Park location has been hosting six virtual book clubs via Zoom. The books chosen for our book clubs are 20% off for the month leading up to each meeting. These book clubs are great for sharing your literary opinions with like-minded readers in smaller groups.
If you have a book club of your own, you can actually register your book club with our store so your members can recieve a discount on your chosen book for the month you're reading it. There’s more information about our book clubs here.
The six book clubs are:
-Reading Through It: A Political Science & Current Affairs Book Club
-Black Lit Book Club
-Booze and Lasers Book Club (sci-fi/fantasy)
-In Translation Book Club (translated books from around the globe)
-Queer Lit Book Club
-Social Justice Syllabus: Policing & Protest
Pro Tip: The individual book club pages list all the books that the clubs have discussed over their history, so if you’re looking for recommendations for particular genres these are pretty awesome resources!
Books to Students Fund:
When the pandemic started, we created the 'Books to Students Fund' so we could help give back. With students predominately remotely learning, access to physical books has been extremely limited, especially for those who rely on their schools for resources and materials. This fund allows us to support these students by donating books to Shoreline, Northgate, and Seattle public school districts and the literary nonprofits Page Ahead and Reading Partners, all of whom will distribute the books to students most impacted by the school closures in our Seattle community. You can easily add a donation amount to any internet order you place through our website. Every bit helps!
As of now, we've blown through our sixth stretch goal of $65,000 and Third Place Books customers have raised $93,391 so far! Find out more info. about our Books to Students Fund here. And thank you again to everyone who has donated and made this a reality!
Asian American Community Fundraiser:
We created a list of 10 books by Asian American authors (many of whom are local) and 20% of all sales of these books (instore or online) between March 26 - April 4 will be donated to API Chaya (a local non-profit organization that seeks to end systemic violence in our communities).
Social media has been an amazing place for us to connect with you as well as our fellow independent bookstores. Not gonna lie, watching an indie bookstore friendship bloom online never gets old. It's always really fun to see people reshare our content, tag us in pictures of their book hauls or leave fun comments. Quite literally, the first time someone shared a video on Instagram of them unboxing our YA subscription box, my co-worker and I were running around the store showing everyone on our phones because we were so excited to see it!
We post all sorts of fun videos and recommendations on our accounts and it's also a really easy way to stay up to date on all of our upcoming virtual events, book clubs, exciting new releases etc. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Kids & YA Instagram!
This is what it means to shop local. When you support Third Place Books, you are actively playing a part in making all of these different things happen to create a better community. YOUR community. The one you live in.
You aren’t just buying a book, YOU are helping to create a more compassionate world that encourages YOUR neighbors, to learn, grow, and cultivate empathy for people who have had different life experiences through stories. Which is something the world desperately needs more of right now.
And not just Third Place Books, but all independent bookstores. So wherever you live, find your local bookstores. If there aren’t any near you, see which ones will ship to you. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on books right now, follow and engage with your favorite indie bookstores on social media. Spread the word and tell your friends and family to shop local for their books. YOU can help your community by supporting independent bookstores.
Thank you to everyone who has, and continues to, support our bookstore and community. I can't believe we are already a year into this thing but somehow time relentlessly moves forward and here we are. This 'Third Place' community has made all the difference for a lot of people over the past year (myself included) and thank you for being a part of it. <3
More Cool Stuff:
-The Signed First Editions Club: We now have our very own book subscription boxes! Since not everyone can come to the bookstore we decided to bring a little bit of the bookstore to you. We have an adult fiction box called Signature Reads as well as a Young Adult fiction box called Lit Reads. You can find out more information about our signed first editions club here and you can watch our YA Unboxing Video of the Lit Reads January box here.
-Our Blog: We have new articles written by our booksellers being published every week with all sorts of book recommendations and thoughts on the world. You can check out the blog here. A couple of our favorite blog posts from this past year are: Listen to Black People, Open Letter on Racial Transparency in Children's Publishing, Top 10 Books From 2020, and YA Books for Taylor Swift's 'evermore' Album.
-Staff Picks on Our Website: Our booksellers are always writing new book recommendations. You can browse our staff picks by each bookseller here! Our booksellers put a lot of thought and care into into each recommendation and our staff picks page is a great place to find hidden gems or a trusted review of a bestseller.
-Merch: A fun way to support our bookstore! We now have t-shirts and sweatshirts that you can get here. It's always really heartwarming when we see customers wearing their Third Place Books pride when they come in to shop.
-Audiobooks: Libro.fm is truly an amazing local company we partner with that allows you to buy audiobooks through your local bookstore. This is a great alternative that not enough people know about! You can check them out here.