Capitol Hill Books

Washington DC, United States | C.1991

Photo Credit: Accidentally Wes Anderson

Buyers, beware. One member of the crew at Capitol Hill Books isn’t here for your crap — and he means, it in the most caring, sincere way possible.

The distinctive secondhand bookstore sells quality used books, first editions and rare titles – all with a no-nonsense style distinguished by its packrat-esque organizational system (self-described as “controlled disorganization”) and a set of rules established by longtime former owner Jim Toole.

Jim, a 30-year Navy veteran holds a degree in history from UCLA and a Master’s from American University – he also owned Capitol Hill Books from 1995 to 2018. Recently, Jim passed the baton on to 4 best friends & long-time employees who’s announcement of the changing of the proverbial guard read: “We bought the bookstore from Jim. Don’t worry, he’ll still be around to harangue you for your poor use of the English language.”

Much to the dismay of chatty-Cathy customers who begin every sentence with “like”, Jim’s tenure at the shop isn’t quite over just yet. The curmudgeonly bookkeeper has stayed on to act as “a substitute teacher while the new owners get their sea legs, mix metaphors, and try to sell a book or two.”

If they’re to continue in Jim’s footsteps, they might have quite a list of rules to keep up. Unabashedly direct, Jim’s rules can be seen in the form of handwritten notes placed prominently throughout the shop, including a “Not Spoken Here” blacklist of overused euphemisms such as “Oh My God”, “Awesome”, “Totally”, and unsurprisingly, the nemeses of any brick-and-mortar book retailer: “Amazon”.

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