Left Bank Books

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Product Category: Books and Bookstore

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  • Left Bank Books has been a fixture of Seattle’s radical community since 1973 when a group of people split off from the University District’s Red and Black Books to form their own collective bookstore in the Pike Place Market. The two projects would continue as separate but mutually supportive projects until the mid 90’s when Red and Black closed its doors.

    For much of the 80s and 90s, the Left Bank Books Collective expanded to include two other projects: AKA Books, a used bookstore in Seattle’s University District, as well as a wholesale distribution and mail order project known as Left Bank Distribution. Neither of these projects exists today due to financial problems and rental situations in Seattle.

    Left Bank is collectively owned and operated by its workers, and has been since its inception. As an anarchist collective, Left Bank has no bosses or managers. Decisions are made in bi-monthly collective meetings based on a consensus process. Despite all the changes over the years, Left Bank Books continues to thrive at our Pike Place Market storefront thanks to Seattle’s radical community and the many folks who visit us from out of town. See you next time you’re in the neighborhood!

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  • Social solidarity profile description:

    Left Bank Books is a collectively operated business. This means that we have no boss; we are our own boss. The core staff is composed of roughly six paid members. We are responsible for bookkeeping, invoice payment, ordering, taxes, lease negotiations, volunteer coordination, marketing, and general store maintenance. We also have approximately twenty weekly volunteers who work at the store in exchange for discounts on books, and learning how to run an independent bookstore. History as a Left Bank volunteer is required to be hired for a paid staff position.

    In 1973, Left Bank Books was founded by a small collective. In the late 1990s Left Bank Books became registered as a federal corporation. This transition was made namely so that in the event of financial difficulty at the store, individual employees would not be held financially responsible. Left Bank Books is not federally registered as a non-profit.

    WHY A COLLECTIVE? So, why work in a collectively run business, and not one with a hierarchical structure? In our collective individuals are equally empowered to make decisions related to the store. We prioritize sharing knowledge and information with each other so that no one person possesses all the information about a particular task. We prefer to work in a non-hierarchical setting. All decisions are made through an informal consensus process. This means that all decisions are discussed until collective agreement is reached.