290 River Street, Troy, NY
Market Block Books is pretty much the go-to spot for new books in the city of Troy, and it’s perfectly situated in a gorgeous downtown setting close to the river and plenty of cafes, bars, shops, and restaurants. And though the shop isn’t huge, it has just enough of everything to keep you busy with new bestsellers or local fare.
When you first go in, you’ll find staff recommendations and new hardcover displays greeting you, with handsome shelving units and the quintessential bookshop ladder on wheels offsetting rows of literary and general fiction all along the right wall. You’ll find a modest selection of the classics and bigger name authors here, and in the standing shelves, square units dotting that front area, the shop has a small collection of mystery, crime, fantasy, and sci-fi books, but nothing too extensive. In fact, the horror section was particularly tiny, and leaned toward Stephen King, his son Joe Hill, and just a few others.
To the left when you walk in is an area dominated by a huge bay window, chairs, and a table displaying a selection of timely fiction and nonfiction, covering recent hits, timely topics, social issues, and other unique contemporary offerings, as well as music and biography titles. It’s clear that this area makes for a great space for readings, not too big but it has the feel of a cozy stage area. And the shop does hold reading events, so look for that.
Down the ramp to the back you’ll find a larger area with all manner of nonfiction—history, reference, business, pets, style, cooking, and more—and a nice children’s section too, with picture books, chapter books, YA titles, gifts, and toys, and finally a small poetry selection, which features a lot of local titles and authors. If you’re a local poet, you should check in and see if they’ll carry your books.
It’s a nice little shop with a selection that should cover most needs, but I do have a few small “wants,” mainly a discount section, which I didn't find, and extended hours into the evening. Troy has a ton of great events all year long and there have been many a time where downtown Troy is packed with people for concerts or just a gorgeous summer evening and the shop already closed at 5 or 6 pm. Alas. As a bookworm with some pocket money to burn, it would be awesome to see Market Block get into the mix and host some special events of their own on those bustling evenings.
But hey, I only review shops, I don’t run ‘em. Overall, this is a pleasant little shop that will satisfy your immediate needs for the newest bestseller or that classic you’ve been meaning to read. Check it out—just get there early!
Atmosphere — A small, clean, quaint shop with dark wood shelves and bestsellers waiting and ready for you. With cozy chairs, big windows, and the requisite bookshop ladder on wheels, any bookworm will feel home here.
Quality — The books are pretty much all new, so you’re getting high quality here.
Quantity — There’s a modest amount of books here, although it’s not the biggest shop. Diversity — You’ll find a little of everything here, even if it’s just a dab (horror, poetry), but there’s a nice array of nonfiction subjects, general fiction titles, and children’s offerings, although there are fewer sci-fi, fantasy, and crime titles.
Affordability — New books means new book prices. I didn’t see a discount section.
Amenities — There were some chairs and a couch for reading, and a long of red carpeted bench seating along the windows near the children’s section.
Location — Downtown Troy, NY a block from Monument Square, a perfect location for a community bookshop. My only small desire is to see them open a little more during busy evenings downtown when the sidewalks are full of potential browsers.
Customer Service — The staff I encountered in my many visits have seemed pleasant.
Overall — This is a shop to visit if you’re looking for local topics, new bestsellers, or notable fiction and nonfiction titles, or if you want something for your kid, but it doesn’t have the largest selection so temper expectations accordingly. It makes for a fun downtown experience though. I love that this area has a bookshop, and it’s worth a visit if you’re passing through.