Capitol Hill’s Riverby Books Stacks Up With the Best of Them

Used bookstore

Pump up the volumes: Riverby Books in Capitol Hill offers two ways to shop its extensive collection: in store or online.

I don’t know too many cozy, neighborhood bookstores in Washington, D.C., to be honest. But if I had to pick one, it would be Riverby Books in Capitol Hill, which spans the border between Southeast and Northeast.

Riverby Books just has a classy feel, like the short story writer down the street or the village poet might be among its denizens in the stacks. But it’s also homey, as you’d just as easily find the local shopkeeper, the mom and her kids or the college student here as well, the latter probably wanting to read something they actually enjoyed for once. Fiction, non-fiction, children’s books: There’s something for everyone at Riverby Books.

Not gigantic, Riverby currently stacks 20,000 volumes (books in lay speak), according to its owner. Operating in Capitol Hill since 2000, Riverby Books sets itself apart with its selection of political and Washingtonian books.

[ Related: Queen of the Hill: A Morning in the Life of a Capitol Hill Renter ]

Unique for a used bookstore, they also carry new tomes from Hill authors. They feature an assortment of signed books as well, including ones by Colin Powell, Thomas Friedman and John Burroughs. In fact, the store is named after Burroughs’ former estate on the Hudson.

Riverby Books
417 East Capitol St., SE
Washington, DC 20003

Open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., there are chairs in the front of the store with more seating inside the two-story establishment (the ground-level and basement of a converted townhouse).

There is also some two-way action going on at Riverby: These guys will buy single volumes and entire libraries from you. So, any of you hidden Thomas Jeffersons out there may want to hear out potential offers.

Riverby Books has a sister location in Fredericksburg, Va., as well.

[ Related: The Arts Take Center Stage in Fredericksburg ]

Now, forget what you’ve heard about used bookstores being run by stuck-in-the-mud, well-meaning Luddites who smoke pipes and quote Melville and Dickens (actually, some of these people surely do), because you can also buy from Riverby Books online at AbeBooks.com.

Lastly, what really makes Riverby Books special is its commitment to you, the readers. I mean, how many bookstores ply their patrons with tea and cookies? Riverby does just that from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day.

In addition, they provide a literary meeting place for poetry geeks with monthly readings. They recently held a meet-and-greet with local writer Marianne Bouldin, author of “Tale of Bambu Mouse.” So, come on out here.

Riverby Books is walkable from at least three Metro stops – these being Capitol South and Eastern Market on the Blue/Orange Lines, and Union Station on the Red Line.

Whether you live on the Hill or in some other part of the metro region, Riverby is easy to get to. It’s another terrific reason to rent an apartment in Capitol Hill in 2011 using Apartment Showcase.

Scott D

Scott D

Scott is a local writer and has been with the Apartment Showcase blog since its inception in 2010.

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