About Us

Our Mission

As a cooperatively-owned store, Buffalo Street Books is dedicated to being a downtown resource that supports the community’s passion for reading, books, and literacy.

Alice McDowell December 3, 2017​Centrally located in the historic DeWitt Mall, Buffalo Street Books is Ithaca’s community-owned cooperative bookstore. Originally opened as the Bookery II in 1981, the store was renamed Buffalo Street Books in 2009.  In February of 2011, the Ithaca community put together a massive buy-out effort, raising over a quarter of a million dollars. In April of 2011, the store re-opened as a cooperatively owned bookstore.

Buffalo Street Books is re-imagining the ways an independent bookstore can serve its community.

​With regular events featuring local and national authors and artists, Buffalo Street Books is one of the premier venues for literary events in a city with a vital literary arts scene and a rich literary history. Our events facilitate lively discussion and bring forward challenging subjects that many mainstream venues eschew.​

Buffalo Street Books stocks thousands of titles for both adults and children, in just about every imaginable genre, as well as literary journals, cards, and periodicals. In addition to our comprehensive and eclectic inventory, we can special order nearly any book in print and our First Class Program offers college instructors and students a way to get course books quickly, conveniently and affordably.

Building a Better World

​​As a cooperative business (co-op), we are owned and democratically controlled by our members-- the same people who use our services and buy our books-- not by one individual or outside investors. ​

Our 850 (and counting!) owners elect the board of directors from within the membership. All business decisions are decided upon by this group of stakeholders.

As a co-op, we return surplus revenues to members proportionate to their use of the cooperative, not proportionate to their “investment” or ownership share. We are motivated not by profit, but by our members' desire for affordable and high quality books; we exist solely to serve our members and local community.

Building a Stronger Community

Numerous studies have shown that shopping at locally owned businesses has striking positive effects on the local economy, and shopping at local bookstores has been shown to have an even more pronounced positive economic impact.

A recent study by Civic Economics showed that for every $100 spent at local bookstores, $45 remains in the local economy, compared to only $13 out of every $100 spent in chain bookstores.

Money spent at local businesses simultaneously creates jobs, funds more city services through sales tax and strengthens an environmentally and economically sustainable centralized downtown.

In an era of big box stores and online outlets, independent bookstores are critically important sites for maintaining literary communities, preserving local flavor by combating the homogenizing effect of corporate stores and promoting a lively and diverse intellectual discourse. Buffalo Street Books works with many of Ithaca’s community and campus organizations, including the Tompkins County Public Library, Cornell’s Africana Studies and Research Center, the Ithaca City School District, and Ithaca’s Big Brothers, Big Sisters Program to create and strengthen an environment of lifelong literacy.

In a city with an exceptionally literate and intellectual population, Buffalo Street Books is a perfect place for readers of all ages and walks of life.