Little did I know when I stepped into Otto Bookstore in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, that I was stepping into a landmark. Dating back to 1841, the Otto Bookstore is America’s oldest independently owned bookstore and has served its community for generations.
The shop’s website details its rich history and the multiple locations at which it has stood over the years – an interesting read that dated the shop’s origins even further back than present owner Betsy Rider originally thought.
The impressive origins were a cherry on top of what was already an impressive visit simply browsing the store. The shop specializes in new inventory that’s creatively displayed throughout the bright, colorful, beautifully decorated space. In addition to the expected fiction, non-fiction, and new releases, there are large sections for religion, travel, and other genres, as well as an expansive children’s book area. There are also nice selections of the usual bookshop sidelines – tote bags, cards, magazines, stuffed animals, and games.
I also encountered a small and dedicated staff. The two employees I chatted with appeared to have been with the shop for years, and were knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful to every customer with a question – just the kind of personal touch that indie booksellers are known for.
If you find yourself in the Williamsport area, stop into the Otto Bookstore for a true slice of bookshop history.
The Otto Bookstore is located at 107 West Fourth Street, Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Open Monday through Saturday.