Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Book Hunting around Bennington, Vermont

Southern Vermont is a fertile hunting ground for books and paper. Its gorgeously scenic roads are studded with antique shops, library book sales, bookstores, flea markets and junk shops. Here is a tour of a few of the bibliophilic haunts that I have found in recent months.

Downtown Bennington itself has two bookstores, The Bennington Bookshop at 467 Main Street which sells a nice array of new books, and Now and Then Books, a few giant steps away at 439 Main Street.  Now and Then is upstairs, the thought of which makes my bookseller's back muscles spasm, and has several rooms of inexpensively priced books in all categories. It is best to check the neon-colored-shifting-font-size website for bookshop hours, which tend to reflect the shop's name.

Heading north up the lovely historic route 7A, there is Black Dog Trading Post. I just discovered this relatively new antique shop and Chuck, the shop owner, is affable and accommodating. His shop is stuffed with great furniture, including a haberdashery cabinet that would make a great ephemera display fixture for someone's bookshop with room for antiquarian volumes on the top shelf. Several vintage typewriters graced the premises and there were many interesting small sculptures and artworks that would make wonderful library antiques. I asked about books and Chuck dove into a back room to bring out at least 20 boxes of books, magazines and ephemera for me to root through. I left with a large box of assorted 19th century material that I will be cataloguing for weeks.

Continuing north on Route 7A you come to the postcard perfect town of Arlington. I always have great luck hunting up books I've never seen before at Catamount Books, at 198 Pleasant Street. I've blogged before about my book hunting at John Hess's shop, which is stocked with titles that are fairly unusual. Each visit entails at least a couple of hours of browsing and many minutes of playing fetch with John's adorable Australian Shepherd puppy, Chloe. John's had an inventory reduction sale under a tent outside his shop all summer long, though the books will now be moving indoors during the colder months.

Just down the round from Catamount Books at 1223 E. Arlington Road is the East Arlington Antique Center, housed in the old town movie theater. The antique center name is cleverly announced on the old theater marquee. Inside there are rooms and rooms full of antiques (and an awesome rock shop), with many of the dealer booths containing books. I've gotten some great bargains on art and photography books and scooped up a nice collection of antique photographs.

The Martha Canfield Library sells used books at two locations. The first is at its seasonal used bookstore at the Arlington Community House at 3854 Main Street (Route 7A), housed in a home that was deeded to the community by Vermont writer Dorothy Canfield Fisher. It's worth spending time on bended knee hunting through all the shelves to unearth bibliophilic gems here. At $1 and 50 cents each (half that during their sales), you can easily fill up several boxes at each visit. More books are offered for sale all year long at the main library, located at 528 East Arlington Road.

Backtracking south down Route 7A (or the equally beautiful and faster Route 7), and heading west across the State border to the village of Hoosick Falls, New York there is a huge cache of book treasures at Dog Ears Book Barn. Though the eponymous dog has since gone to the great Bookshop in the Sky, and the place is lousy with lazy cats

there are two floors of a book-scented barn to prowl through. Owner Jeff Waite is a delight to chat with (the Welsh accent is a big draw for me) and the selection of scholarly and wide-ranging stock turns over well. Jeff is resolutely a "no dot, no com" old-fashioned bookseller, and his books are in lovely condition and priced fairly I am usually drawn first to the Books about Books section, though I feel an equally magnetic attraction to his sections on Art, Photography, Science and History.

From Dog Ears to Austin's Antiquarian Books in Wilmington, Vermont is a winding and scenic ride of about 45 minutes back on New York Route 7 (becoming Vermont Route 9). Karen and Garry Austin's jewel box shop has been the subject of a previous Book Trout post, but it really is such a treat to look over the gorgeous bindings, Teddy Roosevelt collection and the overflowing selection of cookbooks that Karen (or Bookzilla as Garry now calls her) recently acquired, that I have to mention this shop again.

There are many more book haunts yet to explore. Please let me know if you have any other suggestions.

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