27 Main Street, Chatham, NY
Columbia County in upstate New York is a gorgeous area of the country, with rolling hills, small farms, and quaint towns like Chatham, which has a pretty, revitalized main street that is home to a combination of chic artisan shops and longtime local favorites that have held on through the years, including a one-screen movie theater and a bookshop. The Chatham Bookstore is a gem that has survived through four decades as a literary outpost with a great selection of books and events.
Inside the front door you’ll find a round display with select titles and bestsellers. To the left are stairs to the long wall of literary and fiction titles, where I found the wonderful novel West of Sunset by Stewart O'Nan (about F. Scott Fitzgerald's last days in Hollywood) along with mystery, fantasy, and sci-fi included further along. To the right of the door is a nook with poetry titles, essay collections, short stories, and a comfy chair begging you to relax and stay a while. As you move deeper into the shop you'll find more cutouts and nooks with books focusing on crafts, art, music, gardening, travel, sports, and more.
Just past the old-fashioned ladder and office you’ll find a larger room with space for events and a large table and chairs for anyone who may want to read and relax. To the right is a wall of art supplies, not a lot but enough to keep local artists stocked up with the basics. To the left of the table is a robust selection of discounted titles, both fiction and nonfiction, all new and including many big names, such as Zadie Smith, Charles Bukowski, Willy Vlautin, Cormac McCarthy, Tana French, Alan Furst, and Geraldine Brooks. It’s a real goldmine, so look for that area when you visit.
In the room all the way in the back are the children’s books with another nook or two for reading and relaxing, and the section of titles is really nice, everything from picture books to chapter books and up into YA and teen titles. There were people browsing in each room during my visit, yet it felt peaceful and relaxing. It’s really a nice shop with a good vibe, polite staff, and plenty to keep any bookworm busy for an hour or more. Poke around, sit a spell, and load up on great titles.
Atmosphere — This is a charming small town bookshop with cozy nooks and enough space for events and readings. The shop also includes a small art supply section.
Quality — The books are new and of high quality.
Quantity — It isn’t a huge shop but there’s plenty of books in the 2-3 rooms to keep you busy.
Diversity — The individual nonfiction sections are smallish but added all together they slightly outweigh the modest yet engaging fiction section, which includes a nice selection of mysteries, a dash of sci-fi and fantasy, and a wonderful children’s room in the back.
Affordability — Standard prices for new books, but there’s a large discounted section in the same room with the art supplies, and this section included many big name authors for half-off, including Judy Blume, John Le Carre, Cormac McCarthy, Tana French, and Zadie Smith.
Amenities — The shop has some charming nooks for reading and a room big enough for events, including a big table where I saw some folks reading or working with a laptop.
Location — This bookshop is on the main street of a small town maybe 30 minutes from Albany, and it sits among a string of shops, cafes, and a movie theater. A very cute little town.
Customer Service — The staff were very polite and were helping customers either at the front desk or around the shop the whole time I was there. It was bustling for such a little store.
Overall — With an excellent balance of books, a cozy environment, and a robust discount section, this is one of the best bookshops in the Columbia County area.