For such a small town (population: 8,500), Middlebury, Vermont has a great number of bookstores. Here’s your guide to them all.
Alley Beat. 8 Mill Street, Middlebury, VT 05753. (802) 388-2743. Tucked around behind Middlebury’s Main Street shopping strip, Alley Beat has the most intriguing location of all the town’s bookstores. With the Frog Hollow Craft Gallery across the way, you can admire local artisans’ work, while the Otter Creek Falls roar nearby. Alley Beat sells music in all formats by all types of artists, from famous to obscure to local. It also sells used books with concentrations in children’s literature, fantasy/folklore, women’s studies, sociology and philosophy. Say hi to the proprietor, who will greet you by name and remember your favorite bands; then sell your used music for store credit and buy something to read. (At least that’s what I did.) An eclectic little gem.
Middlebury College Store. 58 Hepburn Street, Middlebury, VT. (802) 443-3036. https://cat.middlebury.edu/newstore/catalog/ . The Middlebury College Store sits on the edge of campus furthest from town, so it’s a bit of a hike from downtown. Stock includes textbooks, reference books (in English and other languages) and literary classics. Books by faculty authors, among them distinguished novelists and poets, can be found here. Don’t forget your Middlebury-emblazoned gear. A specialized and rather expensive store.
Monroe Street Books. 70 Monroe Street, Middlebury, VT 05753. (802) 388-1622. About 15 minutes outside Middlebury’s main drag, Monroe is the only bookstore in the town with its own parking lot. The store covers two floors of a converted barn, and full shelves cover the walls. Monroe carries literature and non-fiction for all interests at reasonable prices. Its offerings of mid-20th-century pulp (magazines and paperbacks) and vintage prints distinguish it from other bookstores in the area. The store also sells a substantial amount of early children’s books. Unlike Middlebury’s other cozier shops, Monroe contains plenty of room to sit and read.
Otter Creek Used and Rare Books. 20 Main Street, Middlebury, VT 05753. (802) 388-8241. So named because you can hear the Otter Creek Falls gushing in the background, Otter Creek is a dusty trove of used books, many paperback, that rewards persistent searchers. Its strongest subject areas are psychology, sexuality, women’s studies, sci-fi, romance and general literature. Condition and price vary widely, with most books in fair condition at medium to low prices. A perfect store to get lost in on a rainy day, Otter Creek also features store cats who add to the establishment’s charm.
Vermont Book Shop, Inc. 38 Main Street, Middlebury, VT 05753. (802) 388-6991. In the heart of Middlebury’s historic downtown, the Vermont Book Shop is like an old-time general store of books. Aisles are narrow, and the hardwood floor squeaks musically under your feet. The Vermont Book Shop contains a varied selection of new books, particularly children’s and contemporary fiction. Local authors and local history also have shelf space. Warning: There’s usually only one copy of a title in stock, so you may have to be patient while staff order that special title. The Book Shop stocks local authors, as well as music and paper goods.