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. Dove & Hudson (Albany, NY) - Located in the heart of Albany, mere blocks from the state capital, Dove & Hudson has long represented something very special to locals, a booklover's bastion of quality used titles at excellent prices. They have impressive history, literary nonfiction, and fiction sections to sift through, and great sub-categories too. The staff are smart and friendly, they buy books back at a fair value, it's just blocks away from all the coffee and food options on Lark Street, and I have never left empty-handed. When it comes to used books in Albany, this is stop number one.
2. Rodgers Book Barn (Hillsdale, NY) - This place surprised me. I was expecting a little roadside barn but found rooms and halls and floors full of amazing deals, an excellent range of titles, and a quirky bright decor that gave the store a fun, cozy vibe. I found a bunch of new titles marked down well below half price, and mixed in were all sorts of older editions of classics, rare volumes, and gorgeous art books. It's well worth the drive out into the depths of Columbia County to wander these rooms and shelves.
3. Dog Ears Books (Hoosick Falls, NY) - Much like Rodger's, this huge barn is chock full of books and they shocked me with their expansive selection, with piles and stacks of affordable books dominating three floors and exploring topics and categories that other shops only hint at. Considering you can’t even see the barn from the road, the size inside is startling, and thrilling. They have a fair selection of new-ish titles mixed in but the real values are in the rare, first, and early editions of classic texts and popular fiction. Very impressive!
4. Lyrical Ballad (Saratoga Springs, NY) - It's a shame the owner recently passed and I'm hoping this shop finds a way to stay open because it's a Saratoga mainstay and an absolutely wonderful place to explore. The shop twists and turns underground with rooms upon rooms of books piled floor to ceiling. It's hard to find a topic or genre they don't cover extensively, and the older editions are in great shape. A perfect complement to the bright, bustling downtown scene.
5. Down in Denver (Stephentown, NY) - This tucked-away gem of a bookshop is always worth the drive out to Stephentown. They have a distinct Beat Generation vibe and the staff are always outgoing and excited to have you wandering their shelves. They have a great fiction sections, religious texts, mysteries, records, and some really notable and hard-to-find memoirs, not to mention one of the best bookshop cats around. Drop in soon!
6. Magpie (Catskill, NY) - This used bookshop almost doesn't feel like one with all of the recent and like-new offerings they have adorning their shelves, from art to mystery to general fiction and so much more. This bright, cheerful shop in the heart of Catskill's quaint downtown is a wonderful place to explore, and I highly recommend the short drive over to anyone visiting nearby Hudson's busy downtown attractions.
7. Our Bookshop (Saugerties, NY) - Located just down the street from Inquiring Minds Bookshop, this is not one to overlook. It teems with an amazing selection of new and throwback titles, including a great section for pulp/noir, art, general fiction, mysteries, medical and law, records, artwork, and large art books. This quiet little shop has a lot of heart.
8. Owl Pen Books (Greenwich, NY) - Deep in the farm country in Washington County you'll find another barn full of books, and this one contains an extensive selection of history, fiction, poetry, memoirs, and biographies, with all manner of rare finds, niche categories, and that warm dusty musty comforting scent all booklovers adore. Finding this shop is a wonderful adventure in itself (and really isn’t all that hard to do).
9. Somers W Bookseller (Schenectady, NY) - Situated near Union College, this shop is packed and stacked with books both new and vintage, and it's always a pleasure to weave and twist through the aisles and scour the shelves for that surprise out-of-nowhere discovery. If you're in Schenectady, this is a must.
10. Librarium (East Chatham, NY) - Not far from Chatham or the Taconic, this is yet another bookshop barn piled high with older editions are rare finds, with lots of art books, histories, mysteries, children's titles, and more. The staff are super friendl, and the drive out is gorgeous.
For more reviews, visit www.thebookshophunter.com.