**** We are currently only open by appointment due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are also filling grab bags and setting up sidewalk sales on weekends****
***** We have temporarily suspended in-store book purchases. Please check here for updates on when they will resume. If you would like to donate books, email us at email@example.com for details and to set up an appointment for drop off.
If you have a larger collection or what you think may be "collectible" books, feel free to email us with more info, and, ideally, some photos, and we will take a look. *******
Capitol Hill Books is a used bookstore located on historic Capitol Hill in Washington DC, with three floors of quality used books, first editions and rare books.
In the summer of 2018, a group of long-term employees purchased the store from Jim Toole. More information about the transition can be read here.
We are located directly across from Eastern Market, two blocks from the Eastern Market metro stop and just a short walking distance from the United States Capitol, The Library of Congress, and The Supreme Court. Please click here for Driving Directions to our store.
If you are searching for a particular book, please stop by the store, and we'll help you find it. We have a small staff, a constantly changing inventory and a shop that's sometimes bustling with bibliophiles, so thank you for understanding we are not always able to assist with book searches via email or phone.
We have many, many more books in the store than are listed on our website. To get a real taste of everything we have to offer, we recommend that you come in for a visit. We have fiction books in the Fiction Room, mystery books in the Mystery Room, foreign language books in the bathroom, cookbooks in the kitchen on the kitchen sink, business books in the Business Closet, and a Weird Section for those who like witches, dreams, and things that go bump in the night. We also have books on history, philosophy, travel, Washington DC, theology, psychology, politics (of course), games, art and more.
If we don't have what you want in the store, we will try to find it for you at an estate sale or auction. Please email or call us if you would like to donate books.
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, 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 to the basement, and has incorporated Bill Kerr's high standards for quality used books.
Jim Toole 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 ran Capitol Hill Books from 1995 until summer 2018 and has been generous enough to act as substitute teacher while the new owners get their sea legs, mix metaphors, and try to sell a book or two.