Capitol Hill Books History & Scenes


The store was founded by Bill Kerr who had worked at an earlier Capitol Hill bookstore, Wayward Books.  He would take his pay in books and when Wayward closed up and moved to Maine, Bill opened Capitol Hill Books in 1991.  He lived upstairs and worked downstairs in the store, while also holding down a job at The Washington Post.  He died at age 58 from a heart attack in November 1994 and his sister sold the bookstore to the present owner, Jim Toole in February 1995.  

Bill Kerr was a beloved figure on Capitol Hill, not only for his knowledge of books but also for his efforts through AA as he focused many people onto the road to reason and productive living.  The present store has expanded into the second floor and has incorporated Bill Kerr's high standards for quality used books.

Bookstore Owner "Jim" Toole


Eastern Market

East Capitol Street


Owner of Capitol Hill Books featured in People’s District

“I hope that the store will stay around, but I am in the buggy whip era. Know what that means? For a while, they made buggy whips because not everyone had a car. With buggies, you needed a whip to get the horse to trot. With the car, the buggy whip people went out of business slowly. So, that is me, slowly going out of business. Big book shops are closing down, and those two-faced bureaucratic Johnny Onenotes in the D.C. government scream out the window that they want to help small businesses, and then close the window. So, I have property taxes, Kindle, and Amazon working against me.”

“I know it is just a matter of time before they push me out and make this another Starbucks, so that we can have more crap on every corner of this city.”

Jim Toole is the owner of Capitol Hill Books at 657 C Street Southeast.

Read the full article here at

"The Rules"

Bookstore Owner "Jim" Toole

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