Looking for a gift that truly captures the Capital Region’s personality?
Try a book. The region is rich both in history and in authors who write about local history or who hail from the area, said Janet Hutchison, owner of The Open Door Book Store and Gift Gallery in Schenectady.
“We find lots of customers love to give books about the area,” Hutchison said. “This community is rich in excellent writers, particularly children’s authors and illustrators. There is lots of wonderful material.”
In addition to Hutchison’s store, other places offering local book selections are the Schenectady County Historical Society and Barnes & Noble in Mohawk Commons in Niskayuna.
Hutchison said books about local history or by local authors sell well. “We find lots of customers love to give books about the area,” she said. “These titles move all the time because many times people in the community will know about the books, about the author. Word of mouth makes things happen.”
Jennifer Hanson, officer manager for the historical society, said “we have a market for local books. We have people who come here from Texas, South Africa, Germany, Ireland, who come in to use the genealogy library and then they buy a book.”
Hutchison said many of the books she offers are produced by major publishing houses, but she will also consider self-published authors or books published by small printing houses. For her to offer the book, however, “it has to be well-written and interesting and we have to feel it is something our customers will enjoy. Just because they are local, that does not mean we will carry their title.”
Hanson said the books she selects for sale at the society “have to relate to Schenectady. I look for anything that affects us locally.”
The society purchases books for sale from small publishers, such as Arcadia Publishing and SUNY Press. “We also work with the New York State Museum,” she said.
The society’s books for sale basically cover history in Schenectady County, from the 1600s to the modern era, with topics ranging from General Electric to the Stockade. “We have an inventory of more than 100 titles,” Hanson said.
Here is a partial list of books with a local flavor available at local shops:
In the children’s literature category:
u “Dragon Castle,” by Joseph Bruchac of Greenfield Center.
u Camp Kids, a series for children by Sharon Swain, who teaches in the Niskayuna schools.
u “Benjamin Franklinstein Meets the Fright Brothers,” by Matt McElligott and Larry Tuxbury, from the Albany area.
u “The Twelfth Stone,” by Jana Laiz of Ergremont, Mass.
u “Lala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby,” illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon of Albany.
u “A Coming of Winter in the Adirondacks,” by Brian Heinz, who spends part of his time in the Adirondacks.
u “Mary and Her Little Lamb,” illustrated by Will Moses, grandson of Grandma Moses, who lives in Eagle Bridge.
In the adult literature category:
u “Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes,” by William Kennedy of Albany.
u “Out of Oz,” by Gregory Maguire, the fourth and final volume in the Wicked Series. Maguire lives near Boston, but he grew up and went to school in Albany.
u “Winterberries: Poems of Hope,” by Melinda Morris Perrin of Scotia.
u “Historic Schenectady County: A Bicentennial History,” by Bill Buell.
u “Integrating Delmar: The Story of a Friendship,” by Margaret Cunningham of Schenectady and Arlen Westbrook of Delmar.
u “Schenectady: Frontier Village to Colonial City,” by Don Rittner, city of Schenectady historian.
u “Haunted Mohawk Valley,” by Dennis Webster, who lives in the Mohawk Valley.
u “Stories from the Mohawk Valley,” by Bob Cudmore, local author.
u “How Carrots Won the Trojan War: Curious [But True] Stories of Common Vegetables,” by Rebecca Rupp of Vermont.
u Gardening books by Kerry Ann Mendez of Ballston Spa.