This could very well be the new most beautiful bookstore in Seattle. Ada's Technical Books, the science-obsessed bookshop that's been thriving at the very end of Broadway for three and a half years now, is moving a few blocks up the hill to the old Horizon Books house on 15th Avenue East, with a grand opening party today at noon. Owners David and Danielle Hulton bought the house last May and have been renovating it ever since.
That year-and-a-half investment has paid off with a jackpot; when Hulton gives me a tour of her new space—David is a full partner and active in designing and working on the space, but Danielle is the day-to-day manager—I can't help but gush. Walking down what Hulton calls the store's "spine," you're dazzled by glass and repurposed wood—about 90 percent of the wood fixtures have been repurposed from the old space, including old doors that partially separate the airy cafe on the left from the tall stacks of books on the right. To riff on a famous Hemingway invention, the new bookstore is a clean, well-lighted place for books and the people who love them.
With its comfy seating and welcoming fireplace, Ada's is the kind of space where you just want to spend time. The store's sections—technical electronic manuals, computer guides, kids' books, science fiction, biographies of scientists, a small-but-sure-to-grow set of shelves for cookbooks and guides to the sciences of coffee and tea abutting the cafe space—all feel slightly foreign when compared to the liberal-arts-friendly sections found in most general-interest bookstores. They demand inspection. There are puzzles and games and science kits available. Plenty of outlets line the walls and floors for laptops—Hulton was an electrical engineer before she opened Ada's—and the back room features a convertible screen and projector that can be used during readings. For the first time, Ada's has an official events coordinator, and they intend to ramp up their already quite full calendar of book clubs, presentations, science talks, and traditional readings in the months ahead.
Hulton had never worked as a bookseller before, and she credits Ada's success in part to her lack of experience in the field. She sounds jaw-droppingly optimistic for a bookstore owner. "Books aren't going away," she says...