Book lovers paradise in Derby
Tucked away in a venerable old factory building once known as “The Old Cow Shop” sits one of the best kept secrets in Derby – its only book store – and a very special one at that! It’s very easy to miss Books by the Falls as you drive along scenic Roosevelt Drive about a mile from the center of town. However for any serious bibliophile, Books By the Falls is an experience not to be bypassed. There’s plenty of parking on B Street, and that’s where the entrance is.
An overwhelming sense of history hits you as you pass through the doors of one of the city’s remaining industrial landmarks and enter the realm of great books past and present. Don’t be fooled by the offer of books for $1.00 - though there are plenty of those to be had in the current collection of 45-50,000 books crammed into every nook and cranny of this converted factory space. Dig a little deeper and what you’ll find is a vast collection of classic books dating back as far as the 1600’s. Books by the Falls is a member of Connecticut Antiquarian Booksellers and it "strives to offer the very best in antiquarian & rare books, ephemera, manuscripts, autographs, maps and prints."
As you examine some of the special editions found at Books by the Falls, you will find an eclectic collection that includes something for everyone. The quality of the higher end editions is something to behold and so often missing in today's mass produced books. These are books meant to last with special vellum papers and fine book binding. One of the great features of Books by the Falls is the freedom to browse the collection without the high pressure atmosphere of most modern book stores. Because of the very nature of the collection of books, the foot traffic is not what you would find in a mall setting leaving you with plenty of time to take a closer, second look at the selections. Ron Knox from Bethany opened Books by the Falls back in 1981. At one time or another, there were branches of the store in Shelton, Ansonia, and New Haven. However, the Derby location is the only current site. Collectors and passersby from all over the country have managed to find their way to this treasure trove of fine books.
On a recent stop at the shop, we were greatly assisted by Larry Brauner who was manning the shop that day. A quick conversation brought out the obvious - Books by the Falls is a labor of love for those who appreciate good books and good literature. Books are received from all over the country. Larry pointed out a collection recently acquired from the estate of the late Yale University President A. Bartlett Giamatti who also served as Commissioner of Major League Baseball. Featured very prominently on a shelf near the main counter was Giamatti's "A Great and Glorious Game - Baseball Writings of A. Bartlett Giamatti" - and on the shelf below was "My Prison Without Bars" by Pete Rose! There were several other of Giamatti's more scholarly works including signed copies.
Though the sense of history is all around you in the small brick walled rooms lined with shelf after shelf of books of every size and description, this is a book store with a strong sense of the present as well. They have embraced the Internet as a business tool as well and conduct several auctions a year on-line and sometimes simultaneously live at the Trumbull Historical Society. There is an auction coming up on September 14. However, there's nothing like going to Books by the Falls and holding the real thing in your hands before making your purchase.
Store hours are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm seven days a week, but you might want to call (203-415-4908) just to be sure!! It's just another Slice of Derby Life to be enjoyed at your leisure.