Only a short walk from UW Tacoma’s campus, the historic Tacoma Book Center stands tall and proud in the Dome District, distinguished by its rustic yet charming red brick exterior. Once inside, the musty smell of paper pages ignites a wondrous emporium of books upon books. With over half a million books to choose from, co-owner of the Tacoma Book Center Larry Jezek assured customers that his store lives up to its reputation.
“We have a lot of books,” says Jezek. “Ever since we started we always said you can always buy them faster than you can sell them.”
Not wanting to sacrifice an inch of its 5,000 square feet to any espresso bar or plush couch, the Tacoma Book Center is nearly filled to capacity with as many used books the store can fit. The shelves are stacked from floor to ceiling with a wide display of diverse books, creating narrow corridors that make navigating the store feel like time-travelling into a maze of distant memories.
For the past 30 years, the Tacoma Book Center has served the Tacoma area as a haven to book worms, casual readers and all other book-related adventurers. Most recently, the historic bookstore has gained regional publicity with a February feature in King 5 News. The station highlighted the endearing and resilient nature of the bookstore, despite the owners encountering new challenges.
Over the years, during which technological advancements have changed the very fabric of human behavior, used bookstores like the Tacoma Book Center have faced imminent threats to its business; the tangible characteristic of a book is considered to becoming increasingly obsolete and rather more of a preference towards nostalgic appeal. Jezek spoke optimistically on the sustained future of bookstores alike, countering this notion.
“When the electric light bulb came out it was a severe setback for the candle, but it is still around because it gives what the electric light bulb can’t: warmth and romance” Jezek said. “In many ways, the book is the same thing. It is not going to die. People are always going to want a book in their hands.”
Adapting to these changing times, the Tacoma Book Center has now opened a warehouse that holds hundred of thousands of more books just waiting to be sold online.
Undeterred by these challenges, this resilient attitude towards the book business is how the Tacoma Book Center has maintained its significance within Tacoma, despite the region undergoing its own course of evolution. Throughout Tacoma’s development, which has altered the surrounding downtown area, the Tacoma Book Center has remained in its place, waving like a flag that is here to stay.
Even if you don’t have a particular book in mind, there will undoubtedly be plenty of appealing options to choose from — just try not to get too lost in in the literary abyss of the Tacoma Book Center.