When Marina Drake’s husband, Robert Drake, started bringing home beautiful, high-quality used books, she didn’t suspect it was going to change her life and career.
Robert Drake’s company had relocated to a building downtown – on Wall Street next door to Europa Restaurant and Bakery – and Monkeyboy Books was in the same building. When the store came up for sale last year, one thing led to another, and the Drakes bought it.
“I had never even seen it before we bought it,” Marina Drake said. “That may be a little strange, but I knew it was a quality store because I’d seen all the great books Robert came home with.”
She met her husband in her native France, when he was there to learn the language. Robert Drake is from Spokane and, after some traveling and time in Seattle, it was her getting a job as a French teacher at Gonzaga University that brought the family to Spokane.
She has always loved books and good literature.
“Some of our books are rare or out of print, and they are all high quality,” Marina Drake said. “All the books are secondhand, but they don’t smell bad or anything.”
Monkeyboy Books is located upstairs, a bit above street level, and tall windows facing Wall Street fill the store with light. Tall ceilings, wooden shelves and brick walls create an ambience somewhere between hip café and old library.
Drake said she’s especially proud of the philosophy and psychology sections.
“And customers love the poetry corner,” she said.
Monkeyboy Books also carries CDs and children’s books.
There has been a bookstore somewhere in that building for decades. Drake said customers often ask about the bookstore that was in the basement and many still come in looking for the small, alternative movie theater, the Magic Lantern, which used to be there, too, but is now at 25 W. Main Ave.
“We give directions to the Magic Lantern all the time,” Drake said, smiling.
The store was packed with books and ready to go when the Drakes got the keys from previous owner Jerry Swift.
“We have more than 15,000 books in stock,” Drake said. “Jerry said we wouldn’t have to buy books for two years – I am beginning to think he was right.”
Monkeyboy Books is hosting local author Vivian Lee Snodgrass at a reading and book signing at 1 p.m. Saturday. She will be reading from her book, “Word Play, a New Approach for Understanding.”
“We will have more readings and maybe also music coming up,” Drake said.
She is still busy organizing books and moving extra stock into the basement where, she said, she’s in desperate need for more shelving.
Does she have any French books?
“Yes, of course we do,” she said laughing. “We may do more of that, too.”