296 Hudson Ave., Albany, NY
The word that kept coming to mind as I moved slowly through this bookshop was thorough. From the expansive history and fiction shelves to the impressive literary memoir, biography, criticism section, this shop contained some of the most comprehensive subsections I’ve seen for something its size. And while it’s not large, it will easily draw you in for hours.
You’ll find this shop tucked neatly into the historic Center Square neighborhood of Albany. Full of 19th century brownstones, churches, shops, and cobbled streets, the neighborhood is a balance between tightly packed residential homes and commercial corners full of restaurants, bars, and cafes. Parking is a bit of a hassle, but if you manage it this shop is worth it. They buy books as well as sell, and they have a few shelves in the front area presenting their newer purchases. They're in unordered piles, but this does make for some fun, anything-goes browsing.
The front area also boasts an impressive history section, as noted, with a large amount of books focusing on America’s colonial era, Civil War, New York state history, the world wars, and beyond. Both newer and older titles are mixed in, and I saw plenty of recent history hardcovers that I had purchased at full or near full price elsewhere. Here, they were just a few dollars apiece. So now I know—always check Dove & Hudson first.
There’s not a lot in the way of children’s or YA, but the fiction area in the back is extensive (they had every Alan Furst book, noir fans, so that's a big plus), but the literary nonfiction section was the real goldmine in this shop. From essays and letters to memoirs and biographies, this section consisted of at least eight or more floor-to-ceiling shelves of literary criticism and reflection. I happily snagged a hardcover biography of George Orwell and an excellent paperback version of Once There Was a War by John Steinbeck, which is filled with his essays from the Second World War—just $12 for the pair. Not shabby.
This is the shop to visit if you’re looking for used books that are as near to new as you can get without going to Barnes & Noble, and for an excellent price as well. High marks all around.
Atmosphere — With near floor-to-ceiling shelves lining the walls and random racks and piles spread throughout, this cozy shop has plenty to keep you busy for an hour or more.
Quality — All used, but they’re in excellent shape and there are many newer titles mixed in with the old.
Quantity — Extensive titles in the history, literary, and fiction areas, with slightly less elsewhere. It contains the largest literary memoir/essay/criticism section I’ve seen in a shop its size.
Diversity — You won’t find as much in the children, YA, horror, or a scattering of other nonfiction subjects, but there’s plenty in the others mentioned to fill the hours.
Affordability — Very affordable, being used. I walked away with two nice hardcovers and a like-new paperback for $19, plus they give you “purple dollars” good for $1 off your next purchase. Add them up over time for a free book!
Amenities — Not much in the way of places to lounge, but they buy books and offer discounted coupons, so that’s a nice touch.
Location — In Center Square, where parking can be tough to come buy. A short walk from multiple cafes, restaurants, and bars on Lark Street and elsewhere.
Customer Service — The staff were polite and took great care to hand write the receipt.
Overall — If you’re looking to browse for used books and you’re anywhere near Albany, NY, this shop should reside at the top of your list. It’s cozy, they have an abundance of clean, newish titles by a wide range of big name authors, and they give you coupons for repeat visits. A nice touch.