126 Black Ridge Rd., East Chatham, NY
Set back from Route 295 on a little dirt road surrounded by small farms and country cottages, you’ll find a shop full of used books piled along narrow aisles and tall shelves through multiple, winding rooms. You may not know it exists if you’re just passing through the area, or if you miss the small sign, but if you’ve heard of the shop through word of mouth or have a sharp eye, a visit to this brimming bookseller could be quite the treat.
I was the only visitor during my visit, but I appreciated the peaceful quiet as I wandered room to room. The incredibly helpful and friendly staff joined me now and then, showing me around to some of the shop’s more notable selections, including a whole bunch of early edition Nancy Drew books (and similar teen detective books of the same era) which I browsed to find a few entries missing from my mother’s collection. She loves those old books and I keep an eye out for her, and I found two she still needed. In that same back room there were all variety of older children’s books, large coffee-table art books, and other nonfiction titles—all guarded by a life-sized cardboard pirate who kept me company. The books leaned toward older editions, but that just means the many stacks contain titles you’re less apt to find elsewhere.
Another room housed a wonderfully eclectic array of history titles, including a lot of local, New England, and Adirondack-specific selections, with one I should have bought about a notable local murder mystery. In another room containing mostly fiction, poetry, and another children’s nook I found an absolute gem—a Charles Bukowski “primer” from the early 1980s called All’s Normal Here, of which there were very few printed. At almost $50, I was delighted to pay up for such a rare treat.
But don’t let that one price tag fool you. This shop is full of deals. That same room had a lot of old pulp and sci-fi magazines, a lot of mass market paperbacks, a horror nook, and more. Aisles up near the front desk contained an area with first editions and signed books, plus more paperbacks and cookbooks, piles and piles. If you love browsing around stacks of books, this place will keep you busy, and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, the staff will happily research the title and find you the best deal. It’s a service they happily provide, and one I know I’ll keep in mind.
If you’re passing through Columbia County, a quick trip up to Librarium will be worth your time.
Atmosphere — A series of rooms filled with books and the smell of old paper and ink, all set back on a country lane.
Quality — The books lean older, but what they lack in new bestsellers they make up for in the antique and one-of-a-kind books you can’t find in more well-known shops.
Quantity — Lots and lots of books here, plenty to keep you busy.
Diversity — It’s a fairly even split between fiction and nonfiction, a little bit of children’s, a decent amount of art and history, cookbooks and poetry.
Affordability — You may pay a little more for the rare ones, but there are plenty of great deals here because they’re pretty much all used.
Amenities — Not too many places to lounge, packed as it is with books, but they have helpful book finding services. Ask about that.
Location — In East Chatham, just a few minutes from Chatham itself. It’s off the main road and I passed it once before I found the turn, so look it up before you go to be sure.
Customer Service — Very friendly and knowledgeable staff, eager to help you find exactly what you need.
Overall — I found a few older gems here but don’t roll down the dirt road to the shop’s entrance expecting new bestsellers and untouched copies. Used bookshops can be a goldmine for overlooked titles, and Librarium is just that, standing out there in farm country with a wondrous old tome with slightly yellowed pages and that old book smell, waiting just for you.