small bookstores

8 Great Small Bookstores in the Northeast

What could be better than browsing through some of the most unique small bookstores in the Northeast? Finding that special book and then continuing your day by exploring some of the most charming towns in the area.

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Island Bound Bookstore

Block Island, R.I.

Located next door to the Block Island post office, the Island Bound Bookstore is open year-round. Owner Susan Bush capitalized on this prime location, selling books for day trippers to take to the beach or pick up to pass the time on a rainy day. Discover the extensive collection of books, including those about the history of the island and plenty of books for children vacationing with their family.

Island Bound Book store has hosted several famous visitors including Frank McCourt and the great Walter Cronkite. Surround yourself with the fresh sea air and enjoy your book.

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Northshire Book Store

Manchester, Vt.

Located in the heart of the Green Mountains in a town that looks like a Norman Rockwell painting, you will find the Northshire Book Store.

The book shop is in a building that was the Colburn House Hotel for over 100 years. “Our store is full of nooks and crannies, making your search for just the right book a charming adventure,” said co-owner Nicole Ihasz.

 Between the in-house books and their extensive online collection, the booksellers at Northshire have access to over 10 million titles. After finding the perfect book, check out their amazing array of gifts including art supplies, Mount Mansfield maple products and the interesting Angry Goat Pepper Co.

Titcomb’s Bookshop

Sandwich, Mass.

Sandwich is the oldest town on Cape Cod, home to the Heritage Museum and Gardens, the world-famous Sandwich Glass Museum and Titcomb’s Bookshop.

Titcomb’s features three floors of unique books and gifts. The main floor has a mix of today’s bestselling books; the top floor has used books, a remarkable collection of antiquarian books and old Life magazines; and the basement is packed with enough toys to fill Santa’s workshop.

Over the years, Titcomb’s has hosted visits by many celebrity authors including Jeff Kinney, Jodi Picoult and, the “Fonz” himself, Henry Winkler.

The Book Barn

Niantic, Conn.

The Book Barn is unusual in the best way. Here you can wander around tiny gardens and a series of buildings that look like sheds stuffed with an inventory of 400,000 used books.

“We have regular visitors from Japan, Norway, France and India, which just shows how far people will go to get a bargain,” said Glen Shea, who has been selling books for over 20 years.

The Book Barn buys used books. Park your car, fill up a cart with your old books and strike a deal with one of the booksellers. Summer is the busiest season, when they sometimes purchase between 10,000 and 15,000 books a week, according to Shea.

River Run Bookstore

Portsmouth, N.H.

River Run has the distinction of not only being a novel bookstore, but it will also help you with the tools to write your own book. In addition to books, owner Tom Holbrook sells used typewriters.

Customers bring in their battered old typewriters, and Holbrook repairs and sells them in his store. “Strange as it may seem, young people are the biggest buyers of the typewriters,” he said. “I had one 10-year-old girl who saved her own money to buy a typewriter.”

About a third of River Run’s books are used, with the balance being new titles. While searching the shelves, you pass through an arch made of old discarded books. It’s a special shop enjoyed by the residents and visitors to the seaside town of Portsmouth.  

Brattle Book Shop

Boston

When it comes to describing the contents of Boston’s Brattle Book Shop, bookseller Zach Marconi said it best: “Here you can buy 10,000 books for as little as $1 each or buy one book that costs t$10,000.”

In a tiny plaza outside the bookstore are bins stuffed with used books at bargain prices. Upon entering the store, you can continue your browsing on three floors. The first two floors are filled with used books, and the top floor offers rare books for your library at home. The stock changes every day so you never know what you can find.

“I have customers who come into the store every day,” said owner Ken Gloss. “If somebody is home sick, they will call and find out what new books are in. When it comes to books, they don’t want to miss anything.”

Willis Monie Books

Cooperstown, N.Y.

In Cooperstown, you will find plenty of books about baseball. But at Willis Monie Books, you will find the largest stock of out-of-print baseball books in the country.  Although customers come to this small bookstore searching for all types of books, including Americana, art, history, fiction and thousands of mystery titles.

The business sells used books only. Monie and his son, Willis Monie Jr., are members of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America. And if you can’t find that special book you’re looking for, Monie has over 100,000 books listed online that he can search for you.

Mockingbird Bookshop

Bath, Maine

Bath is known for its shipyard, which produced destroyers for World War II in as little as 17 days. Today Bath draws tourists to its Maritime Museum and unique shops like the Mockingbird Bookshop.

The cozy store offers a very diverse collection of books, greeting cards and stickers. “We get a great deal of business from tourists in the summer looking for that special gift,” said owner Terri Schultz. “We have all styles of literary gifts, art supplies and handcrafted gifts.”

One of the special services is offered by Schultz’s 8-year-old daughter, Olivia, who said: “I love hanging out in the back of the shop making bookmarks to sell at our store,.” Is there a better gift than a bookmark crafted by the child of a bookseller?

If you like books, you’ll love these literature-themed road trips in the Northeast.

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What is your favorite small bookstore? Tell us in the comments.

44 Thoughts on “8 Great Small Bookstores in the Northeast

  1. I would also recommend Housing Works bookshop-126 Crosby St, NYC; Shaker Mill Books-3 Depot St, W. Stockbridge, Mass.; and The Book Loft-63 State Rd, Great Barrington, Mass.

  2. Lovely article! But you left out The Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington, CT, our family’s favorite bookstore.

  3. Manchester by the Book (Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts) should always be mentioned.

  4. You have to add The Lyric Ballad bookstore in Saratoga Springs to you list . It has a great selection as well as some great, antique bookends, maps and prints on display. It’s been a favorite of mine for over 20 years.

  5. I’d add Pickwick Books in Nyack, NY. Fabulous independent bookstore in a fabulous Hudson River town. Always a new or old book to find in the Dunnigan’s well-stocked bookstore, great places to eat in a friendly town, and access to the Mario M. Cuomo Walking Path (aka Tappan Zee.) They say all good towns have a bookstore. It’s true.

  6. I love Island Books in Middletown, RI, which is the town north of Newport. The small store has a helpful staff and gift items in addition to books. They will order anything not in stock.

  7. W.Whitman Books located in the small village of Middleburgh, NY (midway between Albany and Cooperstown) sells an eclectic selection of used and rare books in all subject areas for all ages, but also has an antiques/collectible corner where you can find unusual items for your gift giving. It also produces acoustic concerts, poetry/book readings, and art/photography exhibits during the summer/fall months. Our dedicated “Kids Corner” provides a place for parents to sit with their children to peruse and read age appropriate books. Drop in and say hi!

  8. Montage Book Mill, in Montague, MA
    “Books you don’t need in a place you can’t find”
    Cozy reading nooks, attic rooms, cafe, outdoor cobbled walkway, next to a babbling brook. A great escape!

  9. You failed to mention that the Northshire Book shop in Manchester, VT. also carries a large selection of used books. I never leave that shop with fewer than 6 books. It’s a wonderful place.

  10. Booklovers Gourmet is a unique bookstore which offers so much more than books. New and used books, children’s books along with toys, puzzles and adorable stuffed animals, unique gifts of all kinds including fair trade and local crafters, a monthly art show of local artists using various media displayed all month long, reading groups, Amnesty International meetings, poetry and writing workshops, live music, author talks and a lovely Cafe offering delicious teas, coffees, cold drinks and pastry. A wonderful experience anytime.

  11. Thanks for this great list! Please allow me to give a shout-out to two other small NE treasures: 1) The Montague Book Mill in Montague, MA, just off Rt. 2 (“The Mohawk Trail”), and 2) Manchester by the Book in Manchester-By-The-Sea, MA. The first includes a cafe and additional shops around the mill; it makes an excellent companion trip to Mass MoCA. The latter has a wide range of books with especially deep collections in NE maritime history, art books and children’s literature.

  12. How could you miss R.J.Julia Books in Madison, CT? It’s been there forever, runs great programs, and survives quite well because of the wonderful people and great service.

  13. I have two favorite small bookstores: The Bookstore in Lenox MA
    Watchung Booksellers in Montclair NJ

  14. One of my favorite used bookstores is the Quabog Book Store in West Brookfield, MA.
    It sed to be called The Book Bear, but the owner retired and the store was bought by a new owner.

  15. Two small book stores in MA are the Concord Book Store in Concord and the Brookline Booksmith. Both have been around a long time and have ardent followers.

  16. You did not include Whitlock’s Book Barn in Bethany CT which is the most unique and special bookstore, probably in the country. Or the Traveler’s Restaurant in Union, CT. Both are extremely unique, fun and a wonderful experience and I consider myself fortunate to have experienced them both. I have never been in any bookstores that compare to either and I read a lot.

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