About Us

Ithaca College professor Jack Wang interviews Pulitzer Prize-winner Viet Thanh Nguyen.Local author and Ithaca College professor Jack Wang interviews Pulitzer Prize-winner Viet Thanh Nguyen.

Our Mission

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

Centrally located in the historic DeWitt Mall, Buffalo Street Books is Ithaca’s community-owned cooperative bookstore. Originally opened as the Bookery II in 1991, 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. In addition to our comprehensive and eclectic inventory, we can special order nearly any book in print.

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

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, the Ithaca City School District, and Southside Community Center to create and strengthen an environment of lifelong literacy.

We are also proud to pay all of our employees a living wage.

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.

Working for Justice and Equality

Toni Morrison wrote, “The human project [is] to remain human and to block the dehumanization and estrangement of others.” Buffalo Street Books is committed to that project in the form of fighting racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and the oppression of all marginalized people. We do this by carrying and promoting books by a diverse range of authors, by hosting spaces for community conversations about social justice, and by collaborating with community organizations in their consciousness-raising efforts. In our aspiration toward becoming a truly antiracist bookstore, we commit to scrutinizing our business at every level, from hiring practices to our inventory. We also commit to regular antiracist trainings for those staff and board members who are white, and to reckoning with the ways we as individuals participate in a white supremacist society.