You don't have to trek down to Portland or up to Seattle to find great used books. Tacoma has some great choices right here in town, and the books are a lot less picked over.
Yesterday we set off on a mission to freshen our supply of children's books. Our fist stop was King's Books between 6th and Division on St. Helens. King's is an enormous place with a fairly small selection of books for small children. (Their young adult section is a bit larger) We had no problem finding some great and very reasonably priced choices. They have a small kiddie table with a few chairs and some puzzles for the kids to sit at while parents browse.
This is always better in theory than in practice for my kids, so I didn't have a chance to do much of my own browsing on this particular visit. They have a vast collection of titles, however, enough to keep any book lover occupied for an hour or so of hunting. I've made some kid-free visits there in the past and found some good deals.
The next place on our list was Tacoma Book Center, kitty-corner to Freighthouse Square and the last Link stop, at E26th and D St. This place makes King's look kind of small by comparison. You wouldn't know it from the completely plain exterior, but inside is a thriving store packed to the rafters with used books in excellent condition.
The children's section here occupies the ends of the first three or four aisles. It's a bit haphazard, but if you take the time to look there's tremendous variety. I found beautiful hardcover editions of some of the same titles they sell as beginning readers with junky paperback bindings in the big new bookstores out by the mall. At 1-5 dollars a piece they were a tremendous steal. The kids got a little rambunctious wandering through the maze-like interior, and the proprietor didn't seem to mind at all.
This was my first visit to Tacoma Book Center, and I will definitely be back with the goal of finding a few things for myself.
I definitely recommend stopping by either or both for a bit of weekend exploring. Both have terrific hours (10-6 every day at Tacoma Book Center, and 10-7 Mon-Sat and 10-6 Sun. for King's) and were practically empty this Sunday. If you are tired of the weekend throngs out at the mall or in Lakewood, downtown is the place to go.