A Review of Binnacle Books


321 Main Street, Beacon, NY

When I lived in Beacon circa 2009, there really wasn’t any bookshop outside of the small library annex that sold overflow titles and well-worn mass paperbacks. This bookshop, however, puts Beacon back in the literary race. It’s a small shop, just a few cozy, compact rooms, but it packs a punch, has plenty to browse through, and gives Beacon’s Main Street some much needed literary representation.

Up on the front steps I found some shelves, stacks, and storage space full of dollar books and $5 titles, and being a bright sunny spring day, it was nice to browse outdoors for a few minutes. Once inside I found the first main room were full of shelves and displays with new books and used literary titles alike, both in paperback and hardcover, as well as some great nonfiction titles that focus on current “resistance” ideals and modern social movements. There are also some pamphlet-sized books of literary re-prints, created by Paravion Press, a local publisher, and those are worth looking through.


In the larger back room to the right there’s an even split between fiction and nonfiction, with bunches and bunches of books all packed in to every possible space. I loved how the titles were categorized, with one area covering “sexy” literature, another anarchism titles, and a humor section simply dubbed, “Have a laugh, take a piss, smile for once.” I can dig that, and it’s nice to see a shop get funky with their organization. There’s a great memoir section (where I found a book I wanted by Juan Thompson, Hunter S Thompson’s son), a true crime/murderer section, notable noir/mystery and sci-fi/fantasy titles, just a lot to keep you browsing.

In the smaller back room to the left were cooking and gardening titles, a small children’s section that still managed to cover a lot of ground, and a very cool section on rock and roll, the arts, some biographical books, and some commentary titles on the artistic life. There were a few I really wanted here, including a rock bio on Alex Chilton, but I had to limit myself so I passed and hoped they’d be there next time.


When I was checking out I also saw they had one of those “mystery book” baskets with titles wrapped in brown paper, like a blind literary date. Check that out if you’re up for an adventure. There were also notice of upcoming readings and events. That was nice to see. Beacon really needs more of that.

It was a lively shop with plenty of people coming and going during my visit and I was happy to see that. Beacon needs a real bookstore like this one and I hope Binnacle sticks around for the long haul. 

Atmosphere — A cozy shop jam packed with new and used books, categorized in fun unique sections.

Quality — The used books were of good quality and there are a variety of new titles as well.

Quantity ­­— The shop isn’t huge, just a few small rooms but they make the most of their space.  Books are slotted into every space available and even hang from the walls, and there’s an area outside the store for deeply discounted titles.   

Diversity — For a smaller shop there’s a great amount of diversity, and the sections are broken down in fun ways, like a section for “sexy” literature.  

Affordability — The prices for used books are fair, with paperbacks ranging from a dollar or two to eight or nine, and hardcovers usually half off.     

Amenities — Outside of a chair or two, the shop is too small for many extras, but they’re close to a bunch of great cafes and eateries in Beacon, so you’re not far from a place to relax with your purchases.  

Location — Near the library in downtown Beacon, at about the midway point of the main street in town. 

Customer Service — The one staffer was quiet and reading her book at the front until I checked out, which was quick and easy. 

Overall — Beacon was long overdue a shop like this, filled with great titles, a new and used selection, and attention or quirky, quaint details. I highly recommend locals supporting this great shop, and if you’re just passing through Beacon or attending one of the town’s many festivals, pop in for a book!