Over nearly 40 years, Oblong Books & Music in New York’s Hudson Valley has proven that independent book stores still have an important role to play in our communities. Oblong has stores in Millerton and Rhinebeck, in northern Dutchess County, NY and is operated by a father and daughter team: Dick Hermans and Suzanna Hermans. While their family history in the area dates back to the 1680’s and the store name derives from a border dispute of that era, Oblong’s retail enterprise is a model of the modern independent bookstore.
Begun on a shoestring in a 400 sq. ft. space in Millerton in 1975, Dick and a partner, now retired, slowly built the store into a respected local institution with a loyal customer base. Currently, Oblong owns two buildings in Millerton; one houses a children’s store called “Oblong, Jr.” Dick started the Rhinebeck store in 2001, opening just a few days after 9/11.
While growing up in the store and working there since the age of eight, Suzanna jumped in full time after college in 2007. She has proven to be a passionate and energetic bookseller who literally has taken the stores to a new level. Currently she serves on the Board of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and is President of the New England Independent Booksellers Association.
Keeping it local and independent is what makes Oblong unique. Each of their stores has its own character and thrives because of Oblong’s dedication to meeting the needs of everyone who walks in the door or visits their web site. Oblong has also made a priority of developing strong relationships with nearby libraries and schools to help encourage a love of reading among young people. In the Rhinebeck store a long-running Hudson Valley YA (young adult) Society, and a newer League of Extraordinary Readers series for younger kids, bring many authors to the store to talk about their work. Combined with events for older readers, Oblong brings over 100 authors to their stores each year.
Oblong is open all but two days a year and is dependent on a 15 person staff who share the owners’ love of books and the love of connecting people with a book they will love.
To learn more about Oblong Books & Music, go to: http://www.oblongbooks.com