Mapping the Terrain of Used and Rare Books
Over the last year I have had wonderful occasion to visit Western Massachusetts for several days at a time, relaxing on the apple farm with my lovely and talented girlfriend (see her sewing blog here) perusing bookshops, hiking about, and catching up on my work. This scenic and rural region is home to rolling mountains, winding rivers (the Connecticut and the Deerfield), what are known as the Five Colleges (UMass Amherst, Amherst, Hampshire, Smith, and Mt. Holyoke). These colleges impact the variety of books available at book shops and thrift stores. Sections on feminism, film studies, and radical history bloom here as they do not in other rural regions. Below is a brief run-down of some of the book shops in the region; I recommend them all, and find this to be a beautiful part of the world.
Joe Doe Jr, Records and Books
While is appears, at first, to be mostly records (and I am sure it is a well curated collection though I know very little of vintage vinyl), one wall is entirely covered in books. Ranges in age and subject matter, with over-all low prices. History, music, African American History, politics, fiction, plays, it is all there. I found a few gems, and purchased a copy of the 3 volume, slip case 2666 by Roberto Bolano and a softcover of Glamorama by Ellis.
World Eye Books
Books: Mostly New
New books and stationary, gifts, magazines and newspapers. Also has a small selection of used books.
Beautiful old mill converted into book store, music/media store, and cafe/restaurant, on the edge of the Connecticut river. Beautiful scenery and building. Large selection which, as my stores in this area do, reflects the presence of the Five Colleges.
Dense, small second floor room dedicated to books. Currently the selection is half-off. Standouts are an extensive collection of Marxist and radical texts; philosophical texts on post modernism and feminism; rare vinyl including spoken word poetry; extensive French and German language section. I purchased some Noam Chomsky, Phillip Dick, and Eric Hobsbawm texts at well below cover. Very nice owner, as well.
Standouts include book repair and appraisal, as well as selection including many rare texts.
Large selection including many academic remainders. Extensive selection of MIT press books, as well as other academic texts. I purchased Slavoj Zizek’s The Plague of Fantasies.
Shelburne Falls, MA
Books: New and Used
Highlight is Boswell the Cat! Adorable fluffy black and white cat that chills on the upholstered chairs comfortably clustered in the center of the shop. Lots of signed copies of works by local authors, new and used books in categories like fiction, non-fiction, film and media, nature, religion, and a large section of children’s and young teen’s books. Last time I was here I picked up a reading copy of William Gibson’s Mona Lisa Overdrive (book three of the Sprawl trilogy) and read it over the next day. I really like this shop.
Books: Antiquarian and Used
Tons of antiquarian books, as well as prints and book accessories such as antique book ends and a really nice hardwood book stand. While they have many rare antiquarian book the atmosphere is open and inviting, not stuffy and repressive. One of the things I was most interested in, as someone who studied alternative religion from an academic standpoint, was A History of Magic and Experimental Science volume 1 and 2 (out of 11, I believe). Really cool texts and good prices. Books on New England history, nature, language, poetry, some fiction. This is a good place to find things you would not find at a standard book shop.
Nancy L. Dole Books
Books: Antiquarian and Used
I did not have as much time as I would have liked to look around, but did note a few things. Solid selection of used and antiquarian books, as well as ephemera and post-cards. I noted some Lawrence Ferlinghetti and others from City Lights, some Burroughs, books on the Occult and magic, as well as poetry and fiction.