Secondhand Bookstores

As the name of this blog, Cheapo Snobs, indicates, we are to the core of our beings frugal

and, we like to think, discerning people. Secondhand bookstores with their often astonishing contents at rock-bottom prices are right up our alley. The beauty of shopping in places such as these is that one can get good deals as well as unearth the occasional prize of a long-desired, out-of-print, signed, or even first edition. Shopping with care, one can pick up a few bargain birthday or Christmas gifts as well.

Although we regret the disappearance of stores such as the Bryn Mawr Book Shop from Lark Street, the Capital District still has a variety of places where one can discover literary
treasures. For one, there is Albany's Dove & Hudson, located (not surprisingly) at the intersection of the two downtown streets of its name. Relatively small and with limited hours—check before you go—it’s a cozy place to spend time searching the stacks. Farther afield on Phila Street in Saratoga, is the charming and poetically named Lyrical Ballad Bookstore. Obviously set in an old bank building, it comes complete with something you don’t see every day in an establishment of this sort: a vault! The collection—which includes prints and postcards as well as a great variety of books—spreads out over several rooms, creating a delightful maze to wander through and explore.

By far, however, my preferred used bookstore in the area is The Book Barn, in an unassuming strip-mall in Latham across from K-Mart on Troy-Schenectady Road. Naturally, the proximity to home makes it a favorite of mine, but other
factors enter into the equation. The wide assortment of books—from general fiction, mysteries, and children’s books to comics and cookbooks—is very well organized in a large well lit room and is nothing short of amazing. Besides, all of the books are to be had at very low prices, usually going for around four dollars apiece. I recently found two of Wally Lamb's novels for $3.95 each. The owner, who is nearly always on the premises, is quite helpful and only occasionally crotchety. Once you get him talking, too, he has a trove of tales about things he sees and hears dealing with the public. Like the person who came in looking for the author Annie Moss, which turned out to be anonymous. And another who thought the owner should allow people to exchange books each time they come. It’s not a library, people; it’s a business!

The last time I was in The Book Barn the owner was explaining to me the hit secondhand bookstores have taken both from the advent of the The Kindle and from the closing of Borders, which drew a lot of folks in with its going-out-of-business sales. I really hope that that secondhand bookstores like this one will weather the storm of issues such as these and of the current economic climate.

posted under |


Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home



Recent Comments