Independent Bookstore Day 2019 is upon us, and to celebrate I thought I’d share some of my favorite bookstores in the Albany/Capital Region. Now I should note that my idea of the Capital Region might differ from yours. If I can drive there within an hour or so from downtown Albany, you’re in. There are plenty of great shops right on that line that didn’t make it, and some well within that range who didn’t make it either, but I had the draw the line and decide on my own personal favorites. Here’s what I came up with. The most important thing is this: support your local indie bookshops, whoever they are!
1. Northshire Bookstore (Saratoga Springs, NY / Manchester, VT) - It doesn't really matter which location you visit since both are lively, bright, and absolutely stuffed with new books and gifts, discounted new books, and an impressive used book section. The quality of books on display here is top notch, and there's a whole floor for children's books, games, and toys too. They hold numerous author events year-round and every time I go it feels busy but relaxing. Both shops are located in great walkable areas with plenty of cafes and food options, making an afternoon browsing for books in these shops the perfect complement to a dinner or lunch outing. They're the absolute best shops for new books in the area, without question.
2. Shaker Mill Books (West Stockbridge, MA) - How's this for unexpected? This little shop out in western Massachusetts is full of exceptional deals, with a vast swath of new books that are deeply discounted and presented in bright, clean, organized shelves and displays. They also have an impressive selection of used and rare editions, big glossy art books, and gifts of all kinds. I was as surprised as delighted, and this shop is definitely worth a drive out if you’re looking to stock up.
3. Rough Draft Bar & Books (Kingston, NY) - This bookshop covers all the bases and more, offering an exciting variety of new books, a robust food and drink selection including beer and wine, and plenty of space for meetings friends, holding an event, or just working away on a laptop with coffee and pie. Located in a gorgeous stone building in the heart of Kingston, this bookshop is an absolute treasure and I cannot stress enough how much booklovers should go visit this place as soon as possible.
4. Inquiring Minds Bookstore (Saugerties, NY) – People have been telling me what a great bookshop this place is for years, and they’re not wrong. With extensive children’s and fiction sections, a used section in the rear, tables for working, chairs and couches for relaxing, games to play, and a café with coffee in the back, this store has a little bit of everything. It’s the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon. I just wish I lived closer!
5. The Open Door Bookstore (Schenectady, NY) – This was the first shop I officially “reviewed” at my blog, The Bookshop Hunter, and it remains one of my favorites. Located on one end of the always fun Jay Street, this shop has a great feel to it, like visiting an old friend. They have a solid kid’s section, plenty of fiction, and a wall of discounted new titles that is so good I can never leave without a couple new ones to bring home. This shop is a delight, and I highly recommend it.
6. The Spotty Dog Books & Ale (Hudson, NY) – What’s better than a bar and a bookstore combined into one? Outside of the great drinks, this smaller shop’s collection is still somehow vast and eclectic at the same time, and the place feels like it was plucked out of Brooklyn or the East Village. They have amazing events too, and there’s an art supply store in the back. Situated right on the main strip in bustling Hudson, this shop is a legit literary destination.
7. The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza (Albany, NY) – If you happen to catch them when they’re having a sidewalk sale, or when they have one of their discount tables set up inside, you’re really in for a treat. But even without those features, this bookshop has an amazing children’s section, a great space for events, and excellent staff picks. I bought my first book of poetry here years ago and I’ll always have a soft spot for this shop because of it.
8. The Bookshop and Get Lit Wine Bar (Lenox, MA) – Yet another bookshop and bar combo, and this time the focus is on wine. The bar may be smaller but the selection of books is fantastic, with a wide array of nonfiction categories, tons of fiction, a children’s nook, and an intriguing selection of timely socially-aware titles on their big back table. The shop feels like a small town cultural center, with locals and tourists mingling together, and I’m looking forward to going back soon.
9. I Love Books (Delmar, NY) – I’m surprised by how many friends hadn’t heard of this great shop! The store is 50% books, 50% gifts, and 100% fun to explore, especially with kids, who will love the back room with all kinds of YA, chapter, and picture books, not to mention the gifts, games, kits, toys, and more. Adults will enjoy it too, since they have plenty of fiction and affordable titles to sift through. This shop is just a short drive from downtown Albany and it should not be such a *hidden* gem!
10. Battenkill Books (Chatham, NY) Out in Washington County you’ll find this superb shop tucked in among a little block of cafes and bakeries, but the books are reason enough to go. It’s a spacious shop with a side room painted up and decorated for kid’s, and a room in the back for discounted titles. Throughout the rest of the shop you’ll find bestsellers, gifts, classics, and typewriters. It’s my kind of bookstore, and it might be yours too!
For more reviews, visit www.thebookshophunter.com.