Riverhead’s latest addition, A Book Place at 489 East Main St, is an intimate shop filled with both local non-fiction and the latest page-turners. Tucked in front of Jerry and the Mermaid, this bright, cozy space is just the place to find your next favorite read. However, the shop’s best feature may just be the owner, Jocelyn Maningo Kaleita.
Ms. Kaleita fell in love with bookstores as a kid working at The Open Book in Westhampton. “I didn’t want to be there, I thought I wanted to be playing my sports and hanging out with my boyfriend and typical young girl things.” Despite her reluctance, once she started working, “I just fell in love with it. I wanted to be there all the time.” Reading did not come easy due to her struggle with dyslexia, but she learned to compensate and ended up reading three to four books a week.
The First Chapter of A Book Place
After working as a journalist and then a librarian, the pandemic and lifestyle changes prompted a new direction. “I always figured ‘Oh, I’ll find a bookstore I can work in.’ You know, ‘when I retire from the library, I’ll work in a bookstore again.’ It’ll be somebody else’s, and they can just, you know, tell me what to do. And I’ve talked about it for so long.”
The thought of having her own shop took root and would not let go. “I’ve been looking for a spot that felt this way for 12 years. I feel like I can walk over to my shelves and the perfect book presents itself; it just slides itself out. That makes it feel like magic to me.”
Inside the Bookstore
The store is bright and airy, with books nestled in light-colored shelving and homey chairs that beg to be curled up in. There is an ample children’s section, and any book not readily available can be special ordered, giving the perfect excuse to return. If you don’t know what you are looking for, Ms. Kaleita has an uncanny ability to make bespoke recommendations that transcend genre.
“I like to challenge people. Turn them on to other things. And that’s how you get readers. Reading helps you understand the world. See things from various perspectives. There are so many books out there and so many authors that you have no idea how wonderful their writing is. That’s what independents are great for: hand selling and word of mouth selling.”
There are also select gift items that rotate seasonally. She plans to add programming to the roster, including an author club focusing on deep dives into the breadth of a writer’s work.
A Book Place is currently open 10am to 6pm Sunday through Wednesday, and 10am to 8pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For more information and updates, follow @abookplace_boutique on Instagram. 631-405-7902