Broadleaf Books owner Alex Jakubowski ran his hand over books nestled on the shelves, pulling out his favorite titles. The Bird Artist by Howard Norman. Classic titles from J.R.R Tolkien. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
“The thing about being in the bookstore is there are so many things I want to read,” he said.
Packed tight with books, the shelves around him were categorized with laminated labels. He strolled through the little store, pointing out the sections; fiction, mystery, romance, children’s; and less traditional sections, like paranormal, folklore and outdoor living. Jakubowski estimates the store has more than 45 categories of books, with about 50 categories in his personal collection.
For the past six years, Jakubowski and his wife, Amanda Crowell, loaded up their car with tents, collapsible bookshelves and piles of books before arriving at festivals to sell their wares. They also sell their collection online through Amazon.
While they always had their eye on a brick-and-mortar store, the pieces fell into place when a friend of a friend found the space on Main Street in Pine Bush. The couple opened the store earlier this month.
The couple stock the store from their personal collection in their home’s basement, which Jakubowski estimates stands around 50,000 titles. The store can only hold a fraction of that.
Books have been a life-long passion for Jakubowski. As a kid before the internet, he would crack open the set of encyclopedias his father bought when he needed to conduct research for school projects. What started as quick references often turned into hours of immersing himself in the volumes, jumping from one entry to the next.
Another gateway for a young Jakubowski was comic books, which turned into an interest in science fiction and fantasy. He borrowed his parent’s old books and turned to his older brothers’ bookcases when he needed something to read. One book always led to the next.
His natural love of reading led him to study English in college and become an English teacher. He has 30 years of experience teaching English, including 26 years at SUNY Orange.
When you hold a used book, you become a part of the chain of people who have held that book before, becoming a part of its shared history, Jakubowski said.
There is a whole history and body of knowledge when you enter a book, Jakubowski said.
“You never know, when you open a book, where it’s going to take you,” Jakubowski said. “There is always that history and excitement of another shared experience.”
Jakubowski sees the store as a community space for people to find books, meet friends and potentially have a space for small events like book clubs or readings.
“I like the idea of having people be able to come in and feel comfortable, do a book club or sit down with some friends or have a cup of coffee and chat,” Jakubowski said. “It’s nice to have a community space.”
Most items in the store ranges from 50 cents to $5. Broad Leaf Books also sells vinyl, CDs and DVDs.
The store accepts donations of used books. Most of the couple’s inventory comes from donations from libraries, bookstores and family and friends.
Located at 85A Main Street in Pine Bush, the store is open Wednesday through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. To learn more, visit broadleafbookstore.com, call 313-5806 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.