For The Love of Books: Buffalo Street Books
Ithaca, NY

Buffalo Street Books is one of my favorite haunts in Ithaca. Located in DeWitt Mall between Cayuga and Tioga Street, the bookstore seems designed to curve around visitors and readers like a comfortable armchair – just enough nooks and crannies to make you feel somewhat hidden, and entirely cozy. It even has a “reading room,” which is so delightfully Victorian that the title alone merits a visit. But the proof is in the pudding – Dewitt Café, right next door (and home to one of the most exquisite brunches in Ithaca), sends grumpy customers into Buffalo Street Books to sweeten them up while waiting for a table. Apparently, they get so engrossed that they forget about brunch altogether.

It seems almost a necessity for a local bookstore to possess charm and quirks, and Buffalo Street Books has these in spades. But the most impressive aspect of the bookstore is that its sole raison d’être truly is “for the love of books.” The bookstore’s tagline is “A place for readers,” not “a place for consumers.” Local author readings, Q & A author sessions, fiction, non-fiction, and contemporary issue-based reading groups, lectures by Cornell and IC professors…Buffalo Street Books throws itself headlong down each and every possible avenue of literature and the literary-minded, and takes its lucky customers along for the ride.

The loyalty and gratitude customers feel for the store became most apparent when Buffalo Street Books nearly closed down last February. A quote from their website states that “the community put together a massive buy-out effort, raising over a quarter of a million dollars and re-opening the store as a consumer co-op in April.”  Currently, Buffalo Street Books has over six hundred owners, all of whom have made a financial commitment to the ongoing viability of the store by making a one-time share purchase.

Buffalo Street Books aims to maintain a vibrant local literary community, while simultaneously “preserving local flavor” by “promoting a lively and diverse intellectual discourse.” Ithaca has plenty of local flavor, literary and otherwise (keep an eye out for our blog series on local publishers). The bookstore couldn’t ask for a better community for its mission – and I suspect the community couldn’t ask for a better bookstore.

In the last month alone, Buffalo Street Books has hosted three very different critically acclaimed authors: Leslie Daniels, of Cleaning Nabokov’s House, Seamus McGraw, of The End of Country, and Eleanor Henderson, of Ten Thousand Saints. As far as reading groups go, you’ve got Moby Dick, Agrarian Issues (farming, gardening, cooking, etc.), and Non-Fiction (early photography, a secret city, genetic engineering, and more). Buffalo Street Books doesn’t discriminate in its love of books – the more topics, the merrier. A feather in Ithaca’s cap, Buffalo Street Books will continue to be a haven for booklovers, and a driving force in the literary community.

You’ll find us there on Sunday, October 9th at 3pm, for the event “Space Rocks Fall and Mars Is Far,” where our clients Cathryn Prince and Andrew Kessler will be discussing their books about meteorites and Mars. One more new topic for Buffalo Street Books to tackle; one more exciting literary event to attend.

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Other Publications by author-clients of Swenson Book Development LLC

Chelsea Hanson
Mango, May 19, 2020

Cathryn J. Prince
Chicago Review Press, May 7, 2019

Amy Pershing / Chevese Turner
Routledge, August 10, 2018

Diane Tober
Rutgers University Press, November 30, 2018

Larry Scheckel
Tumblehome Learning, May 1, 2019