More specialized stores manage to survive on the rarefied air floating amidst the very books that they offer, namely: carefully used ones. In Kingston, Pages Past sits in a modest-but-stately building on a side street. Owned and operated by Tom Williams and Ann Stenson, the store was started in 1981 on a strictly part-time basis. In 2001 they went full-time, with this being their third location. “We focus on older material: 1960s and back,” says Williams, also adding that they specialize in vintage paperback editions of classics. They buy books “leaning towards pretty much anything that catches our interest,” as Stenson says, “but we do have areas of specialty.” These are: vintage children’s books, collectibles, even antique paper goods.
Experts in ascertaining the value of a book, they try to price their stock at the low end of comparables. “We’ve gotten much better over the years at being selective,” says Williams. Not your typical foot-traffic brick-and-mortar shop, they have phased over to Internet sales – a move that fits the used-and-rare-book clientele. “We always say: we’re here by chance or appointment.” So a visit to the quiet shop requires a phone call: one well-worth the effort.
Pages Past, 75 Pearl Street, Kingston; (845) 339-6484, https://pagespast.com.
Half Moon Books
Located in Kingston’s Stockade District, Half Moon Books has been owned by Jessica DuPont since 2009. She laughs, telling how that came about: “I bought a failing bookstore in an industry that was undergoing huge changes in not only a terrible economy, but a particularly difficult economy for retail. Everyone in business I talked to in ’08 and ’09 felt like they’d gone off a cliff. The benefit of starting out under these challenges is that you learn to hustle. It took me a full year just to organize the top floor.”
Offering used books of every genre, Half Moon also stocks current magazines, cards and gift items. “It’s very tempting to become a new bookseller, but I don’t. The only new books I carry are local history, ordered right from the local publishers.” DuPont and associate Carl Enriquez – he has been with the store since the beginning – also host poetry readings and a science fiction book group that meets monthly. She recently diversified by turning the basement storage space into a thrift shop. Check it out.
Half Moon Books, 35 North Front Street, Kingston; (845) 331-5439.