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Monday, June 27, 2016

Book Barn - Niantic Connecticut

The Connecticut Shoreline is home to some adorable coastal towns. Stonington, Mystic, Groton Long Point and Niantic are some of my favorite small shoreline towns East of the Connecticut River.  One little coastal town that always sort of surprises me in its charm is the little section of East Lyme called Niantic.  In Niantic, you can find some historic homes, the Children's Museum and ocean views. Home to an old little independent movie theater with only five screens, a boardwalk where you can find runners and walkers, and an array of seafood shacks and restaurants on the water. Oh, and it is also home to the "famous" Book Barn. 

The Book Barn was started in 1988, in its original location, an old shingled barn in Niantic. The barn experienced a fire in the early 1990's, but has been up and running ever since. What started as "Three book cases and a couch" now spans eight stores with over half a million books.
There are a few things that make this not just your "average used bookstore".

  • The size: Don't quote me but after some research it turns out that this just may be the largest book venue in New England. With 4 locations throughout the downtown Niantic area and half a million books, the size of this used book operation is impressive. The Book Barn is owned by a couple Randi and Maureen White. 

Map of the Main Book Barn
  • The quirkyness makes the place so charming. There is nothing fancy here, but between the playgrounds, goats, kid cars, chess tables, old sofas and population of (sorta) stray cats, the place just has a weird New England charm. You can walk inside the main barn, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and find a musty sofa to sit on while reading through some of your finds. 

Cars, hoola hoops, and dollar book bins
  • The Names:  As you stroll through the main Book Barn, you can't help but laugh.  Some of the books aren't even housed in buildings but more of a tent like structure, with names like "The Underworld" home to the mysteries, supernatural romance, and some chick lit, where it is "Hot in the summer, cold in the winter, when it rains the river Styx flows through it and the paperbacks are not in alphabetical order".  

The Underworld - Main Book Barn
  • The Price: The book barn is affordable compared to the big book stores like Barnes and Nobles. The books are used but generally in good shape, with the price ranging between $1 and $4 (most books I see are at $4).

New Arrival Shelving
  • New Arrivals: If you find yourself too overwhelmed (as I sometimes do), check out the New Arrival shelves that are distributed throughout the property.  You can quickly sort through these shelves and see what some of the latest and greatest that is being brought into the book barn. 

Chess Games and Seating 
  • Buy Back Program:  The Book Barn also BUYS back your books. But with a stock of over half a million, they have to be picky. Buy Back Policy: "We buy back books every day between 11am and 6pm at the Main Barn location; no appointment necessary. Leave your books in your car and head to the buying tables to speak to an employee. We'll ask you to take a number, they are orange paddles to your left, and how many bags/boxes of books you have. We'll provide further instructions when we call your number. We can't guarantee that we'll take every book, but we'll make you an offer of a check or store credit (20% more) for what we can use".

One of the barns at the Main Book Barn
  • No Frills:  There is no fancy online database, you cannot buy your books online, and you cannot use a fancy system to find a book.  You have to walk over to the barn you need and search for it by author and title the old fashioned way.  If you are looking for a particular book, you can call, email or just walk in and they can take a peek for you. Oh and there is no indoor plumbing so if you have to use the restrooms, there are some portable toilets on the property.
Side entrance to the Main Structure at the Book Barn
  • Location: The other barns are close by right down the road (and they have indoor plumbing!).  First off, the Main Barn is next to East Coast Taco (great mexican food, BYOB, next to a liquor store).  Two of the barns are right downtown and two of the barns (main barn included) is on the outskirts of the downtown area.  Regardless, the barns are all just a few minutes from eachother. 

Kids Books and signage about the other barns
The Main Barn compound has five buildings in addition to the eponymous barn: Ellis Islandthe AnnexHadesthe Haunted, and the Last PageClick here to learn more about the Main Barn.

The Downtown Shop was opened in 2001 and it's eclectic selection has become a staple in the downtown scene. There is ample street parking in front of the shop, and free public parking can be found just behind the building (feel free to enter the store through the secret back door!).  Click here to learn more about the Downtown Shop.

The Midtown Shop was opened in 2009 and it's quiet, peaceful atmosphere has quickly become a favorite hideaway of  locals and tourists alike. There is plenty of free parking in the store lot, but more can be found in the public lot behind the Downtown Shop. Click here to learn more about the Midtown Shop.

Store Four (and now 4 3/4!) just opened in May of 2014 and is the perfect spot to locate that rare or out-of-print volume you've been hunting. Still in the process of settling down, Store Four is home to a wide variety of subjects and is just a quick walk from the Main Barn! Click here to learn more about Store Four.

Goats at the Book Barn
Main Book Barn 
41 W Main St, Niantic, CT 06357
Take exit 72 (Rocky Neck Connector) Left at the end 
Follow 156-East (West Main Street) for 2.5 miles.  
The Main Book Barn will be on your left.
(860) 739-5715 

Main Barn 860.739.5715
Midtown 860.691.3371
Downtown 860.691.8078
Store Four 860.739.0277



  1. The Book Barn is a great name - it's wonderful to find independent bookshops. Niantic seems like a relaxing place to visit. It's great that the beach is a short walk from the Book Barn.


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