467 Rodman Road, Hillsdale, NY
It took us a while to weave through the countryside of Columbia County, backtracking down a few wrong turns on dirt roads, but at long last, we stopped in front of the unassuming wood barn along the edge of the road with a sign out front reading Rogers Book Barn. The sign included different summer and winter hours, but it’s a solid bet to be open on a Saturday afternoon no matter what time of year you arrive. And I’m very thankful they were open, because this shop wasn’t just worth the drive, it was a delight to explore.
The barn of books felt much bigger inside than it looks, with rooms twisting off in seemingly every direction. Watch your step though, because there are a few random steps up and down as you work your way back. The first room upon entering is where the two kind clerks were primarily stationed beside a potbellied stove and stacks of books, CDs, records, and new stock in boxes they were sorting through. This room also included a section of classics, dollar paperbacks, audiobooks, and local, state, and regional titles.
In the next room we found the bulk of their general fiction wrapped around from floor to ceiling, stacked every which way. There was also a section for poetry. The books are used but in generally good shape, and the age of the editions ranges from older copies to recent releases, and all are very modestly priced. The deals are waiting in abundance. The poetry leaned mid-20th century with authors like Brodsky, Plath, Dickey, Sarton, Whitman, Frost, and others in those schools. But the range of fiction was commendable and there was plenty to sift through.
Stepping up into the next room I found plenty of shelves full of literary nonfiction, essays, letters, books on nature, nonfiction titles about birds, papermaking, gardening, and a vast swath of biography covering all manner of notable figures. By now I was impressed with the selection and diversity, and I had rooms to go.
Next room up contained some older science, math, and cookbooks, but also sections about the circus, Hollywood, jazz, rock, plays, Shakespeare, maritime, the arctic, pirates, photography, fashion, and art, where I found an excellent book of Edward Hopper’s painting. There was also a large mystery section that contained crime, horror, ghostly mysteries, Sherlock Holmes collections, noir, espionage, all the big names and more obscure titles too. Really great range.
Up the stairs I found the large top room that had a children’s nook with chairs and toys, not to mention all sorts of books from picture to YA, and then a massive array of nonfiction. There were areas for true crime, history, war, books about national parks, travel guides, and all the regions and nations of the world, from Nepal and Japan to France and Ireland. There were a few boxes of records to sort through, and in the very back there was a coffee machine with free coffee, a nice treat for those who made it that far back.
We each left carrying a pile of books, and we both could have left with triple the amount had we not restrained ourselves. This book barn is one of the better spots for used books in the Hudson Valley and the Capital Region, and I assure you I’ll be going back before too long. Top marks!
Atmosphere — A very cozy, twisting, welcoming shop that is decorated with all manner of lamps, statuettes, pictures, posters, and chairs hidden around every corner. Plus loads of books!
Quality — The books are used but in good shape, and while many trend older there are enough that are recent editions and bestsellers. I even found a like-new hardcover of Naomi Alderman’s The Power for just three bucks!
Quantity — Lots and lots, no kidding. You’ll be looking for a while here.
Diversity — The range is just fine, with obscure topics like the circus and papermaking to mainstream fiction and biographies.
Affordability — Very affordable. I believe we bought about 9 books for $30.
Amenities — There was a little coffee machine and chairs, but you’re there for the books.
Location — Out in the countryside beyond Hudson and Chatham in the depths of Columbia County, but we got there in about 45 minutes from Albany.
Customer Service — The two clerks were very polite and kind!
Overall — This is an adventure, not just in finding it but in exploring the many rooms and shelves they offer, each with a surprise. I highly recommend it!