RiverRead Books, an independent bookstore in Downtown Binghamton, has been helping the Binghamton community turn pages for four years now.
Located on Court Street along the River Walk, RiverRead Books is co-owned by Connie Barnes, Pat Hutchinson-Bay and Jane Stuart-Andrus. The trio met while raising their daughters together.
Barnes said she believes Court Street is the perfect place for their little store.
“We believed Downtown needed a good independent bookstore,” she said.
Barnes, who has been in the book industry for 20 years and previously worked as a sales representative for Penguin Group, said the patrons are the most enjoyable part of owning the store.
“[I enjoy] the sense of community; offering a place in the community where people can come and share their ideas,” she said.
It is the personal touch of RiverRead Books that separates it from chain and online book dealers, Barnes said.
“A lot of people can go online and get books and read about books but won’t get personal service they can read about here,” she added.
Stuart-Andrus said that in addition to the store’s wide selection, they can also accommodate customers’ more obscure requests.
“We have the books people want, and we can broad order anything that people ask for,” she said.
Stuart-Andrus teaches at the Binghamton University pre-school and is married to Binghamton University professor Richard Andrus.
Mike Shapiro, a junior majoring in electrical engineering, said he enjoys the ambiance of the store.
“There are armchairs placed throughout the store that encourage people to sit and read,” Shapiro said. “My friends and I spent some time playing with their impressive stuffed animal collection.”
He also appreciated the selection.
“It seems to have books for everyone, history to fiction to graphic novels,” he added.
Stuart-Andrus said RiverRead celebrates First Friday at the beginning of each month.
“We’ve participated in First Friday before the store opened four years ago,” Stuart-Andrus said. “We feature a new artist every month as well as musicians, and try to stay away from readings and focus on the art.”
Shapiro said he appreciates RiverRead Books’ efforts to connect to BU.
“It’s cool how they’ve been able to tap into the student body for their First Friday performances,” Shapiro said. “Generally I haven’t seen much student art represented at the First Friday galleries, so it was a welcome touch.”
RiverRead Books also hosts a monthly open mic night.
Stuart-Andrus said she appreciates the connection between BU and RiverRead.
“We welcome all students to come visit us Downtown,” she said. “All 17,000, though not all at once.”
According to Barnes, the owners hope to expand in their current location to allow them to host bigger events. She said they also hope to increase their inventory, and possibly add a cafe at some point.