The Book Loft of German Village – Columbus, Ohio
“Have you been to the Book Loft in Columbus?”
This is a question I get asked a lot whenever anyone in my home state of West Virginia discovers my love of independent bookstores. Up until recently, my answer had always been an unfortunate, “No.”
So when I finally did plan to visit the multi-level shop in the German Village neighborhood of Columbus, my expectations were quite high. I’m happy to report that, not only were those expectations met, they were exceeded.
The Book Loft is an impressive store full of new and discount-priced books, as well as artwork, t-shirts, and a wealth of literary-themed gifts spread across 32 rooms full of twists, turns, and surprises. Books even spill out onto the store’s front porch and outdoor area, so shopping begins as soon as you begin walking along the store’s quaint brick courtyard leading to the entrance. Once inside, printed maps and plentiful directional signage help explorers navigate the space, which to the novice explorer could be a bit overwhelming.
With its labyrinth-like layout of small rooms spanning multiple floors, the Book Loft’s location has a long and varied history. The pre-Civil War era building has been home to a variety of businesses, including saloons, flower shops, bakeries, general stores, and even a nickelodeon theater. The Book Loft, albeit a smaller version, opened in 1977 by original owners Carl Jacobsma and Roger Tompkins (who died in 2012), occupying only five rooms. As tenants trickled out, the bookstore expanded. The space grew to 13 rooms by 1981, when co-owner Russ Iler came aboard, finally expanding into the entire building in 1992.
Since then, the Book Loft has become a Columbus institution, holding its own through the ups and downs of the bookstore industry. Today, it is thriving, often viewed as the foundation of Columbus’s active indie bookshop scene. While it may be the biggest of the city’s shops, it also knows who its friends are. The Book Loft epitomizes community spirit with an active calendar of events and, earlier this month, facilitated Columbus’s first-ever organized bookshop crawl.
With a massive inventory of books and gifts, knowledgeable staff members, passionate owners, community engagement, and loads of charm, The Book Loft of German Village should be a must-visit on your next trip to Columbus. Just be sure to allow yourself enough time to truly explore.
The Book Loft of German Village is located at 631 South Third Street in Columbus, Ohio. Visit bookloft.com to learn more and shop online.