New College bookstore opens on Spring Street

The College’s new 15,000 square foot bookstore, which opened this summer, goes beyond the call of textbooks, providing students with a new location for many school essentials and nonessentials.

Designed by Cambridge Seven Associates, the same firm that will design the new Williams Inn, the building’s architecture and interior mirror the modern finishes of Sawyer Library and Hollander Hall, with wood paneling, expansive windows and stainless steel finishes. While it brings new life to Spring Street, the building still pays tribute to the small-town New England brickwork that predominates the more established parts of Williamstown’s main shopping venue. The bookstore also boasts a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold Design and Construction Certification in order to meet environmental standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The bookstore intends to serve the community. On the first floor, a coffee shop run by Tunnel City Coffee provides room for up to 50 guests and includes a projector and screen for presentation events. It also has a designated children’s reading area and playspace.

Manager Richard Simpson, who previously held the same position at Water Street Books, noted that the bookstore will also feature extensive programming.

“[We are] scheduling regular events throughout the year with local and nationally known authors and in coordination with Williams College departments,” he said. “Events will range from readings [to] discussions, music and children’s programming.” The bookstore has already hosted author and Berkshire Eagle columnist Lauren Stevens and local band Misty Blues on its grand opening day earlier this month. 

On the second floor, students can find textbooks, College apparel, notebooks, stationary and other College products. There is also a private meeting room for departmental meetings and local organizations. The third floor houses office space. Overland, an organization that runs summer camps and travel experiences for teenagers, currently housed above the Purple Pub, will occupy that space.

The College’s previous textbook vendor was Water Street Books, located on Water Street. The store was more distant from the center of campus than is the new bookstore, and it sold neither College apparel nor merchandise. Though Water Street Books is now closed, the entire Water Street operation has essentially been transported to the Spring Street location.

The College intends for the bookstore to be more than a place to visit once each semester for an obligatory textbook haul. Simpson hopes that, in the future, the bookstore will “become [a] much more … regular place to browse or just hang out.”

“[I hope] to see students come by regularly and make it their bookstore too,” he said.

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