Monday, April 12, 2010

Market Block Books

Independent bookstores are the epitome of a brick and mortar business. A good local book shop is a defining aspect of a town and provides value to local society. Many wear several hats, acting as part giftshop, book seller, back-to-school store, part confessionals, and all of them literacy advocates.

Review: Market Block Books
Location: 290 River Street, Troy, NY 12180
Business Type: Bookstore

Troy is fortunate to have a truly superb local bookstore: Market Block Books. Established in 2004, Market Block is part of a trio of locally owned bookstores including The Bookhouse and The Little Bookhouse in Stuyvesant plaza that is now celebrating its 35th anniversary.

A visit to Market Block books is an aesthetic experience. It is located at the corner of 3rd and River Street, a stone's throw from the Hudson, in one of the most architecturally attractive sections of down town Troy. The bookstore stands out, Market Block stands out, resembling the Flatiron building of New York City, only smaller and in brick red.

The store is wrapped by a continuous series of windows which serve the dual function of displaying featured books to pedestrians and allowing indirect sunlight to bathe the interior in a warm glow, contributing to Market Block's inviting atmosphere.

Not only is Market Block unique in its good looks, it is also special in the way it does business. There is something wonderfully personal about shopping at this bookstore. On each visit I get the impression that the staff loves the store, loves books, and loves their customers. Susan Taylor of Market Block put it this way, “Book store customers are the nicest people in the world, and independent bookstore customers are even better.” With an attitude like this, it's easy to forgo the convenience of buying a book from

If you live in or around Troy, and have ever had a conversation about books, you will likely have gotten wind of a book recommended to someone from Market Block. The store is renowned for having staff that goes beyond the call of duty to ensure that customers walk away with excellent reads. “You know we are reading,” said Susan Taylor, “we know our customers and keep their tastes in mind when buying for the store.”

Even if you are not a interested in a conversation, small handwritten recommendation cards line the shelves throughout the store. I prefer to engage with the staff to get their suggestions. Susan, who I happen to share a favorite genre with has introduced me to several fantastic authors, most notably Patrick Rothfuss, who has become one of my all time favorites.

If you want a deeper insight into a book, but are not able to make it to the store, the staff of Market Block and The Book House keep blogs in which they discuss recent reads (links are available through the store website).

The store also features a strong selection local authors and host book signings periodically, giving local authors and readers a great opportunity to connect and network.

One thing to note about Market Block Books is that it is not the worlds biggest bookstore. As a relatively small independent, it does not have an inventory to rival that of a national franchise or They do, however, make every effort to compete. If you need a book that they don't have in stock, they will promptly order it for you. To compete on prices, they offer book cards that save regular customers a significant amount of money after a few purchases.

Market Block Books is an excellent piece of a perfectly relaxing day. I like to go by, pick up a new book recommended to me by Susan or Stanley, then get lunch and a coffee from Spillin' the Beans, a great cafe just next door. If it is a Saturday, a stop by the Troy Farmers Market is a great addition to the experience.

Additional Information:
Hours: Monday - Saturday, 10am - 6pm
AllForLocal Listing:
Phone: (518) 328-0045

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