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Seattle’s Twice Sold Tales, Used Books and a Cat on Your Head


Last week, we were in Seattle and stopped by Twice Sold Tales, a used bookstore and AbeBooks bookseller. Twice Sold Tales is located just a short walk from the Elliott Bay Bookstore, which still gets the majority of Seattle’s press when it comes to independent booksellers.

Twice Sold Tales is a classic used bookstore serving the community of Capitol Hill. It was a  dreary Tuesday afternoon, and people were popping in and out while we were there. The sign alone indicated there would be bookstore cats and we soon met Smoo (so named because he smoozes the customers) and Eleanor, who was settled in a cardboard box atop a pile of books. The owner Jamie Lutton has been a bookseller since 1987 and began her bookish business life selling from a cart. Twice Sold Tales eventually found its way to this former doctor’s surgery in 2008 and today it is packed with thousands of used books, most general used copies but a few rare books too. Jamie’s blog illustrates her passion for books and writing. She also writes a regular column for the Capitol Hill Times.

While my colleague filmed and photographed the stacks, I browsed the shelves and found a 1960 edition of Bitter Lemons by Lawrence Durrell – a book, first published in 1957, I had discovered through writing book lists for AbeBooks and been thinking about buying for some years. I just love that yellow cover art.

While we talked to Jamie, a broke musician came in, hoping to sell some books to find the cash for his next meal. Jamie bought a few of them and then, quite seriously, advised that selling plasma to the blood bank was a good way of raising funds when things are really tight. A minute or two later, Jamie found a customer, or least a visitor, sitting in the middle one of the aisles with this shoes off. She briskly told him that his feet smelled and that his shoes should go back onto his feet. When I went to pay for the book, the ginger cat, Smoo, took a close interest in the transaction. As I pulled out my credit card, the cat leaped onto the counter and then onto my shoulders, and then stepped up and stood on my head. I have bought a lot of books in my life but never with a cat on head.

“Does the cat always do this when someone pays?” I asked, trying to stand still while the cat circled my scalp.

“Quite often,” replied Jamie’s assistant in all seriousness.

Just another afternoon in a community used bookstore. A cat on my head while paying in Twice Sold Sales

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Richard Davies

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