Friday, April 23, 2010

One-Day-Bookstore-Tour in Vermont

On Saturday, April 24, 2010 I paid a quick visit to some of my favorite bookstores in Central Vermont. My One-Day-Bookstore-Tour took me to The Book Shed, Hermit Hills Books, Bulwagga Books and Seasoned Bookseller. The idea for a One-Day Bookstore Tour, which I copied from Joseph Trenn, of The Book Shed in Benson, VT, is a perfect way to spend a weekend day browsing the shelves of used book stores all in the same general area.

I first stopped at Hermit Hill Books in Poultney, VT and was immediately in danger of not getting out of there to visit the other three booksellers on the planned tour. The collection of Revolutionary, Civil War, and World War II books might have pinned me down all day. Plus, the biographies and autobiographies collection was tremendous. I bought a handful of books and ran out so I didn't miss the chance to continue my tour.

Just 15 miles up the road was The Book Shed in Benson VT. And I mean shed. It's such a simple building in a simple town, but the tight aisles and the tall shelves are filled with books on a wide range of topics. Joe was out and about while I was there but I was pleased to make the first purchase of the day. It requires patience to visit a used bookstore, unlike a chain bookstore, which are run with the usual efficiency of typical retail operations. In the used bookstore, you expect to find books piled in the aisles, not yet sorted, but available nonetheless if you can take the time to sort through them yourself.

Continuing up the road another 15 miles I dropped in at Bulwagga Books and Gallery in Whiting VT. You can't miss this bookstore as it shares a building with the town post office (Zip 05778). When you see the display rack on the porch with paperbacks for 50 cents each, you know it's a fun place to shop. Inside, the front of the store is reasonably organized, with some shelves labeled to let you know where the Fiction resides. It gets a bit crowded as you move toward the middle and back of the store and becomes totally impassable in the back room. Hidden in the stacked books are the book-buyers dream. Interesting and rarely found books at very reasonable prices. I found a signed copy of a biography of W.E.B. Dubois that you wouldn't find anywhere else no matter how long you looked.

The last stop was 25 miles further along at Seasoned Booksellers in Rochester, VT. This is a great place for the last stop as it also has a cafe with coffee and light fare that came in handy in the early afternoon. Customers bought books, magazines and newspapers and sat at tables in the rooms surrounded by shelves of books for sale. The whole atmosphere was very open and low-key friendly. It was the perfect place to find some bargains, especially on the 30 percent and 50 percent off carts. The already low prices on the books, plus the discount, made it worthwhile to stock up. If no one is at the counter, just pay for the books in the cafe.

Timing Is Everything
For anyone on vacation in and around the Rutland VT region, it would take half an hour to get to Poultney VT for your first stop. For the second and third stops at Benson and Whiting, you should allow a half-hour drive each and at least a half-hour visit each. The final stop at Rochester is a 40 minute drive, which would bring the total to about three and a half hours combined driving, including the return trip from Rochester to Rutland. Then, if you allow two hours in-store time (four 30-minute visits) the total for the One-Day-Bookstore-Tour would be about five and a half hours; longer if you visit longer. A perfect day, well spent.

When I make this round-robin trip, I generally include a stop at the Vermont Country Store in Weston VT, as I am generally coming up from Massachusetts. On the way home, I stop in Bellows Falls VT at the Village Square Booksellers and the Arch Bridge Bookshop. These two stores are practically next to each other on Main Street and combined bring you the best of a general interest bookstore and a used bookseller extraordinare.

This past Saturday was a perfect day to visit six bookstores and enjoy the landscape and atmosphere of Central Vermont. I can't wait to go back.