392 Main Street, Catskill, NY
The small city of Hudson, NY has garnered a lot of attention in recent years as a bustling and growing hotspot for NYC transplants feeding its downtown revival, but just a short drive away and across the Hudson River is a somewhat subtler, quieter town that may be overlooked from time to time, but shouldn’t be. Catskill has a fun little downtown lined with trendy shops, cafes, a movie theater, and yes, an excellent bookshop. Magpie Bookshop is not one to overlook, and mixes small town charm with literary surprises that will make any bookworm happy.
In the summer afternoon I stopped in, they had a free book cart out front, which is always a great sign. Can’t beat free, right? Just inside the front door I found a table with an eclectic array of large art, photography, and coffee table books. To the left there were shelves stacked with nonfiction—regional, historic, Americana, and those exploring the world beyond. As you work your way back you find more displays of topical bestsellers and recent books of note, and then you strike the plays and collections of short stories, which I always love to dig through.
Beyond that, another favorite nook—mysteries, crime, noir, horror, and sci-fi, plus a cart of mystery books for just $3 each. There were a number of books here I already owned, another sign of excellent taste (ahem), and the stacks were overflowing, piled every which way. After a bit of looking I finally spotted one that reeled me in, a little mystery called The List by Mick Herron, just $4. Deal.
Across the room is the wall of fiction, from window to staircase, and I enjoyed inching my way along, browsing every last shelf, with a string of colored lights overhead lighting my way upstairs. They have a very solid fiction selection, plenty of big names, plus areas for poetry and ARCs (or advanced reader copies) for those looking for something different.
Upstairs you’ll find a wider range of nonfiction, with plenty of bright spots to sit and read, chat, meet, a real nice area for a reading or events. As far as nonfiction categories, there were all the usual suspects: zen thinking, religion, philosophy, design, art, music, biography, memoirs, and so on, plus a children’s/YA area just big enough to keep your kid interested while you browse.
It’s a relaxing and bright space and I enjoyed my visit, even if it was brief. If you happen to be in the area, I highly recommend stopping in, especially if Hudson is feeling a little too bustling and touristy. Catskill and Magpie Bookshop are waiting, and might be just your speed.
Atmosphere — Bright, quiet, comfortable, and chock full of books.
Quality — All in great shape, even the free ones out front!
Quantity — It’s not a huge shop, but for the space they have, they really pack in the books, particularly downstairs.
Diversity — They hit all the big genres and categories. Well balanced.
Affordability — Very affordable, with many marked down, and some even free. Your wallet won’t take too big a hit here.
Amenities — Chairs and some space upstairs for events, but mainly it’s just the books. Cafes and eateries are nearby.
Location — Right in the middle of downtown Catskill, a very pleasant town just across the Hudson from…well…Hudson!
Customer Service — The woman holding the fort was busy shelving titles and helping customers, and happily rang me out when I was finished. Always present, never a bother, just what you want while browsing!
Overall — Magpie is the kind of bookshop everyone would love in their town, with just the right mix of literary curiosity, dependability, affordability, and a welcoming feeling of openness. Step inside, breathe in the books, and get browsing!