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Finally Found Books finds a new home in Auburn

Finally Found Books: Co-owners Jill Sena and Todd Hulbert have found a new home for their large bookstore in Auburn. The bookstore has one of the largest collections of books in the area. - Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter
Finally Found Books: Co-owners Jill Sena and Todd Hulbert have found a new home for their large bookstore in Auburn. The bookstore has one of the largest collections of books in the area.
— image credit: Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter

It's light and airy in Auburn's newest bookstore, Finally Found Books, and there's lots of room between the many shelves to browse.

At the register, co-owners Todd Hulbert and Jill Sena and their crew offer fresh gourmet coffee, piping hot from Camano Island Coffee Roasters. Fred Astaire, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday and Bessie Smith set a laid back mood on the PA system.

And there's a comfy assortment of couches and chairs on which to read, chat and take it all in.

Yet two months from the day Hulbert moved his small, independent bookstore from Black Diamond to Auburn and opened it, too many locals still don't know that Steinbeck and Shakespeare, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and countless others are waiting for them, just the other side of those big windows.

Hulbert said the store's former site in Black Diamond, just down the street from the famed Black Diamond Bakery, was too far off the beaten path to make a go of it, despite some truly heroic efforts.

"The bookstore in Black Diamond had been there for 18 years," Hulbert said. "The previous owner actually closed it up. I went in, coming up on two years ago, and wanted to reopen the store there and give it a try. We spent a year and a half in that building prior to moving to Auburn. When I started looking for a building, I was trying to find the best market location. We figured that being down here in the valley, somewhere between Kent and Auburn, would give us a great locale.

"It was really sad to see Kent's two remaining independent bookstores go this year. But there are now only two independent bookstores left in this whole valley, Comstock and us. And we work together with Comstock to try and cross promote each other's stores."

Before getting into the book business, Hulbert said, he worked 15 years in online commerce. That got him started looking for books with a marketable value to sell online.

"I started buying up these huge lots of books all over the place. I started going through them, and there just wasn't enough we could pull out to make it worthwhile. We needed a retail exposure to make both sides of it work," said Hulbert, a Spokane native and a longtime Maple Valley resident.

About 5 percent of what the store carries is new, from new best sellers to "stuff from a multitude of local authors," Hulbert said.

The total inventory, including what's in the warehouse, is about 120,000 books, making it one of the area's larger collections.

The bookstore offers a lot of events — author signings, children's days and poetry readings, to cite only the title page.

"We also bring in art from local artists on a rotating basis. We have up above the register right now the works of a local photographer who's displaying his stuff. We work with a lot of local authors and various things like that," Hulbert said.

Hulbert explained the store's 18-year-old name.

"There are several connotations to it: 'I finally found a bookstore in Black Diamond,' or 'I finally found a book I was looking for.' Just an interesting connotation for a bookstore. ... We just want to give people a nice, clean, open space for a wonderful selection of books to choose from," Hulbert said.

The store is open seven days a week, Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The store is at 3705 Auburn Way N., next to Nielsen Brothers Flooring.

Finally Found Books is a member of the American Booksellers' Association.

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Bookstore event

• What: Raul Sanchez, a Seattle Bio-Tech technician, eschatologist, colletic, prosody enthusiast, hamartiologist, translator, DJ and cook who conducts workshops on The Day of the Dead in Tieton, Wash., talks about the history and meaning behind the Day of the Dead ceremony and reads poetry written about, and inspired by. the Day of the Dead

• When: Noon to 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9

• Where: Finally Found Books, 3705 Auburn Way North

• About the speaker: Sanchez, featured in the program for the 2011 Burning Word Poetry Festival in Leavenworth, is a board member of the Washington Poets Association, Los Norteños writers group and was recently a moderator for the Poets Responding to SB 1070 Facebook page.

His work has appeared in the second Anthology by The Miracle Theatre Viva la Word!, in several Latino Newspapers, on the Latino Northwest Magazine, Latino Cultural Magazine, on bookmarks by the Seattle Public Library 2007 Poetic Art Project and in the 2008 Floating Bridge Review Volume 1.

His work has also appeared on-line in the Sylvan Echo, Flurry, Gazoobitales, Pirene's Fountain and several times in the La Bloga. His most recent work is the translation of John Burgess' "Graffito" released by Ravenna Press. He appears in the Occupy San Francisco Anthology by Jambu Press and in the Anthology Speaking Desde las Heridas.

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