Seattleites spend more money on books per capita than any other American city—almost twice the national average. Given this, you can be assured that the city has lots of choices when it comes to buying books.
With more than 150,000 titles on the shelves, a comfortable atmosphere, knowledgeable staff, and a café and almost nightly readings by acclaimed authors and poets, the Elliott Bay Book Company (101 S. Main St., 206/624-6600, www.elliottbaybook.com ) is a local legend. This Pioneer Square  bookstore is the quintessential place for Seattle  bibliophiles. Pick up its quarterly Elliott Bay Booknotes for detailed book reviews and articles about the craft of writing.
The University Bookstore (4326 University Way NE, 206/634-3400 or 800/335-7323, www.bookstore.washington.edu ) competes with Harvard’s book shop for the nation’s largest university bookstore, carrying an impressive array of titles, plus office supplies, "go-Huskies" clothing, cameras, CDs, and more.
Just down the block is a place at the opposite end of the spectrum, Twice Sold Tales (4501 University Way NE, 206/545-4226), with two cats and a funky collection of used books. It has other shops in Fremont  and on Capitol Hill .
Bulldog News (4208 University Way NE, 206/632-6397) is the best magazine and newspaper store in town, with over 2,000 titles, including quite a few foreign magazines. Almost any night you're bound to find several dozen folks scanning the issues (and doing quite a bit of reading). Bulldog also has a smaller shop at Broadway Market on Capitol Hill.
Another excellent place for magazines and out-of-town newspapers is the Read All About It (206/624-0140) newsstand at Pike Place Market —it is on the corridor just to the left of the flying fish.
For a great selection of travel books, visit Wide World Books and Maps (1911 N. 45th Ave., 206/634-3453, www.wideworldtravels.com , 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun.) in Wallingford . Established in 1976, it was the first travel-only bookshop in America. The tea shop next door is a fine place to read about Asia while sipping Chinese tea.
On Capitol Hill , Bailey/Coy Books (414 Broadway Ave. E, 206/323-8842, http://baileycoybooks.com , 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Sun.) offers a large selection of gay and lesbian titles.
Unrepentant leftists, socialists, and radicals love Left Bank Books in the Pike Place Market (206/322-2868, www.leftbankbooks.com , 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun.).
Other distinctive bookstores include the appropriately named Peter Miller Architecture and Design Books (1930 1st Ave., 206/441-4114, www.petermiller.com , 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Sat., closed Sun.) and Cinema Books (4753 Roosevelt Way NE, 206/547-7667, http://cinemabooks.net , 10 a.m.–7 p.m. daily).
East West Book Shop (1032 N.E. 65th St., 206/523-3726, www.eastwest.com ) is the place for the crystal, channeling, and pyramid-power crowd.
For something more down to earth (literally), be sure to visit Flora and Fauna (121 1st Ave., 206/623-4727, www.ffbooks.com ), the biggest purveyor of natural history volumes in the West.
Lots of other bookstore choices are in town, including a big Barnes and Noble store in University Village Mall (206/517-4107) and another downtown (600 Pine St., 206/264-0156).