Arrow-right Camera
News >  Washington

This man’s house is crammed with books. His new Richland store could feature 50,000

UPDATED: Sun., July 15, 2018, 7:50 p.m.

Book collector Steven Woolfolk walks through a hallway in of his home. He is building a a 6,000-square-foot bookstore in Richland near Horn Rapids to put his collection. (Noelle Haro-Gomez / Tri-City Herald)
Book collector Steven Woolfolk walks through a hallway in of his home. He is building a a 6,000-square-foot bookstore in Richland near Horn Rapids to put his collection. (Noelle Haro-Gomez / Tri-City Herald)

KENNEWICK – Every room of this Steven Woolfolk’s house is decorated with stacks of books, memorabilia and drawings.

He can’t get into his garage very well. The halls are narrowed by solid wooden bookshelves. Toys and other collectibles hang from the ceiling, while books and other keepsakes cover the floor.

Woolfolk said he thinks there are more than 30,000 books in his house, and that total doesn’t include his three storage rooms and another facility.

His collecting has been his passion for the past 30 years – one he’s soon going to start selling off.

Scientific to the core

Woolfolk is surrounded by things of the past and, he thinks, the future.

Both are rooted in science.

Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Glenn Seaborg and Neil Armstrong’s endorsements adorn the walls alongside movie posters and cast-signed photographs of shows like “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

But he also has boxes filled to the brim of books from 1600s, 1700s and 1800s — all of which are for sale.

“This is the history of science fiction and science,” Woolfolk said. “When you hold an old book, you are actually holding a piece of all of our history.”

Woolfolk said he remembers everything he owns, but sometimes can’t remember if he bought a book he wanted or he wanted it so bad that he thought he did. He just has too many.

He wants to bring pieces of those collections to a new space to share and sell — hence his dream bookstore that he’s building in Richland.

A store for science

Woolfolk has been saving for years to get the store off the ground — more than 30 years. He wants it to be a destination, a place people can go to find things just not at any bookstore.

His 5,760-square-foot building at 2240 Robertson Drive will be filled with select books from his collection for sale and some collectibles just for display.

The bookstore also will feature his science roots through relics from the Manhattan Project, Hanford Site and other nuclear artifacts.

“You see how science fiction evolved and how it helps create society and how it changes over time,” Woolfolk said. “It’s kind of amazing.”

Steven Woolfolk collects thousands of science fiction books, movie memorabilia and some fantasy novels. (Noelle Haro-Gomez / Tri-City Herald)
Steven Woolfolk collects thousands of science fiction books, movie memorabilia and some fantasy novels. (Noelle Haro-Gomez / Tri-City Herald)

Woolfolk plans to sell books he has duplicates for and ones he doesn’t already collect.

His business is called “Xenophile, Bibliopole & Armorer, Chronopolis,” but don’t worry too much about remembering the name.

The store’s sign will read, “Books, Posters, etc.”

He said he hopes people will realize the longevity of books at his store.

“People should not worry about books dying,” Woolfolk said.

He’s got practice

The 69-year-old, third-generation Hanford worker plans to retire around 2020. He’s a radiological engineering manager.

However, Woolfolk doesn’t want to wait. He’s opening the store in October.

“I frequent bookstores all my life,” Woolfolk said. “You’ve got to eventually start selling, otherwise it becomes too much.”

Anyone who’s been to RadCon in Pasco will recognize Woolfolk as a vendor.

Brian Sheldon, who favors mystery books, joined the project as Woolfolk’s partner. They share a love for book collecting.

Woolfolk’s working as a contractor while hiring out others for more specific jobs.

Steven Woolfolk looks at special addition paperback books inside a room of his home in Kennewick. When Woolfolk isn’t reading and buying books, he works at Bechtel as a radiological engineering health supervisor. (Noelle Haro-Gomez / Tri-City Herald)
Steven Woolfolk looks at special addition paperback books inside a room of his home in Kennewick. When Woolfolk isn’t reading and buying books, he works at Bechtel as a radiological engineering health supervisor. (Noelle Haro-Gomez / Tri-City Herald)

He said he hopes to get moving on the more than $500,000 project next week by putting in sewage lines.

He knows the project is ambitious, but he is up for it and preparing the site every day.

“This is how your reach into the future and the past,” Woolfolk said. “It’s all there.”

He knows he isn’t what people would consider normal, but he doesn’t care.

“It feels normal to me,” he said. “And I don’t pay a lot of attention.”


Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter

Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter

There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email webteam@spokesman.com

You have been successfully subscribed!