Have you ever wanted to spend the night in a bookstore? If so, make you way to Liberty Book Shop in Avis, Pennsylvania, for an Airbnb stay like no other.
The shop is located in a former church, and owner Linda Roller, who lives in the attached parsonage, rents out her spare room, providing guests 24-hour access to roam the store and explore the vast inventory of used and rare books. I recently spent a couple nights enjoying Linda’s hospitality and whiling away several late hours roaming from shelf to shelf.
After years of bookselling, Linda formed a distinct vision for what she wanted when she began looking for property to open her own place in the late 1990s.
“I’d like to own a church and a parsonage,” she told a realtor friend who asked if she had ever considered owning property. “She was the first person that didn’t say, ‘Well, let’s go to the bank and find out how much house you can afford.’ Instead, she said, ‘I think you’re going to get that, and I want to help you.’”
A year and a half later, the spot in Avis became available when the congregation was moving to a larger location, and Liberty Book Shop was born. Linda converted the church into the bookshop and moved into the parsonage. The store opened its doors in April 2000 and has been an active presence ever since.
While Avis is a quiet town, Linda has successfully supplemented in-person sales with mail order and online purchasing, a tactic in which she’s well versed.
“This place has always had a strong mail-order component,” she says. “When I moved here, it was on the wave of the first internet booksellers. I’ve been doing business online since 1996.”
The Airbnb component launched in 2018, inspired by a hailstorm, of all things. Storm damage necessitated a new roof and other renovations. The updates allowed Linda to move primarily into the upstairs portion of the parsonage, leaving two rooms on the main floor empty.
“I said, why not rent them out through Airbnb? Of course, people said, ‘You’re crazy.’ But that’s okay, I’m used to that. A Greek chorus says that about every two or three years in my life.”
If anything, she’s crazy like a fox. The rooms rent steadily, and Linda has drawn visitors from all over the world, including India, Norway, and South Africa. Many of the guests are outdoor enthusiasts interested in exploring the area’s popular trail system.
“How do they find me?” she asks with a laugh. “I can’t figure it, but they do.”
My own interest in exploring is limited to bookshops, and I can attest that visitors to Linda’s house will meet a welcoming and friendly host and have a clean, quiet, nicely appointed room that is only a few steps away from the adjoining store.
The space is filled with tall shelves that are nicely organized. Most of the stock comes from organizational sales and private buying, and the shop boasts an impressive collection of everything from history to politics to contemporary fiction, children’s books, classics, and more. I found several titles from my running list of sought-after books – and even some rare ones that I may already regret leaving behind. Or perhaps I’m just leaving the door open to return?
The Liberty Book Shop is located at 1 East Park Street, Avis, Pennsylvania. The shop is open Thursday through Saturday or by appointment.