A Review of Mysteries on Main Street


144 W Main Street, Johnstown, NY

Driving away from the ice-churned Mohawk River and into the rolling foothills of the lower Adirondacks, I came upon Johnstown and its tightly clustered homes and quaintly urban downtown. That’s where you’ll find Mysteries on Main Street, but don’t judge this book(shop) by its cover, as the name may lead you to believe you’re entering a store specializing in mysteries. It doesn’t, but not to its detriment, as it has a nicely diverse offering.   

Mysteries on Main Street features new books in a traditional array of fiction, nonfiction, paperbacks, and bestseller sections. It was clean and bright and felt as if it was plucked straight out of a more touristy town, with gift counters and trinkets and big brass-looking chandeliers hanging in every room. I saw many recent hardcovers I’d recently bought elsewhere (including Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier by Mark Frost) and lots of old favorites in the paperback section. Off to the side there’s an entryway to another few rooms (or what clearly used to be another shop) with classic literature, YA, children’s and more gifts, cards, candles, etc. There’s plenty to look through, and while it’s not a huge shop, you could easily while away an hour browsing from room to room.


One downside, I didn’t see any discount areas, something I look for in every shop, so if you go, you’re likely going to buy new and pay the usual price you’d find in most Barnes and Noble stores. Not the end of the world, and maybe I just missed it, but just a caution.

Overall it was a decent shop offering a nice spread of new books, but I didn’t think Mysteries on Main was what I’d call a “destination bookshop” but more of an outpost of literary necessities, the kind of place you’re glad exists if you live out that way and don’t want to drive the hour or more to a bigger, more robust shop. Some towns larger than Johnstown don’t have anything like it, so the area should feel quite lucky.

Atmosphere — Felt like a bookshop combined with a touristy gift shop, but was bright, clean, and had plenty to explore. 

Quality — All new and in top shape. 

Quantity ­­ A modest amount, enough to keep you browsing for an hour or so, although some nonfiction sections felt lighter than the fiction offerings. 

Diversity — The shop leaned toward paperbacks and bestsellers, with a nice selection of children’s, YA, and classics. Some of the nonfiction sections felt a little light.

Affordability — Being all new, you’ll be paying the usual price.   

Amenities — Not many, just books and gifts here, although there were some nearby diners and cafes if you wanted to linger in the area after browsing.

Location — It felt a little far out of the way just for new titles, so unless Johnstown is convenient to you, you may find it not as worth your while as you may hope.   

Customer Service — The one staffer I saw was polite and lingered near the front counter.

Overall — If you’re out that way, Mysteries on Main is a fine shop to suit your standard book buying needs, but if you’re not already in that neck of the woods, you may enjoy something closer to home.