Celebrating 40 years in 2013!

Dear BookPeople,

On November 17, 1973, new Moscow resident Ivar Nelson opened the door of the brand-new BookPeople of Moscow at 512 S. Main Street, in the space between the theatres. Ivar misplaced the key to the store that first morning and was 15 minutes late, much to the chagrin and amusement of the line-up of customers who were waiting at the door.

"Young man," one elderly lady said, wagging a finger at Ivar, "This is no way to start a business." 

Fortunately Moscow and the wider community on the Palouse has supported BookPeople despite that early mishap, allowing us to celebrate our 40th anniversary in November of 2013. We believe that BookPeople is the longest continually operating bookstore in the state of Idaho. In the entire country, there are not that many bookstores that have been around as long as BookPeople. We can all be proud and grateful to have reached this milestone.

From 1981 to 2011, Bob Greene took the helm at BookPeople.

As the third set of owners/caretakers of this venerable institution, located since 1999 at 521 S. Main, we are still a little wet behind the ears. But the first three years have been a daily joy and challenge, as we continue to get to know our customers, the book business, and how to succeed in uncertain economic times.

The name BookPeople comes from Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451." Bradbury's Book People save books when others ban them and burn them. In our society, Book People save books when others are predicting their demise, not publishing them on paper, making money off them without paying the authors a decent living, and selling them online at no profit (and without collecting sales taxes) so that real bookstores like ours go out of business.

You might ask, so what? What difference does a little community bookstore make in the larger scheme? Why do we bother? Because books are not just words on paper. Civilization itself depends on what books offer us: storytelling, sense-making, intellectual freedom, discussion of ideas, transmission of knowledge, opportunities for empathy, insight into others, and shared humanity. Do you really trust the internet or one single company to safeguard those things for us and our children? I don't. I believe the world needs all the independent booksellers it can get.

As I've been thinking about what the name BookPeople means, I realized that "people" is always plural, not singular. BookPeople is not me or Ivar or anybody else specifically. It's everyone who supports our community by supporting local stores like ours...who supports our larger mission of saving books by shopping here, bringing their children here for storytime, by understanding that saving books is not something somebody else is going to do for you or that anybody can do alone. It is a mission that we all have to accomplish for ourselves and for the future.

With gratitude and hope for another 40 years,


on behalf of all of us: Carol, Walt, Steffen, Nicole and our incredible staff 


Add your BookPeople memories! 

Many people have been a part of BookPeople over four decades. We'd like to hear from everyone about their BookPeople experiences and memories. Please use the "Comments" link at the bottom of the page to contribute to our memory book, that will be a permanent part of this website and our archive of memorabilia.

If you have photos that you'd like to provide for our historic archives, please send to us via email or drop them off in the store. We can scan them for you and return them if they are in a labeled envelope.


Watch video here of interview with Ivar Nelson provided by Marsha Que Sera Productions about BookPeople history.

Listen to an audio here provided by Marsha Que Sera Productions, of an interview with Libby Davison, one of the first BookPeople employees, from 1974 - 1981. Click on this link: https://db.tt/WDEoQuqn

See historical BookPeople photos here.