Get Lost in the Book Loft’s 32 Rooms in Columbus

In this Feb. 17, 2018 photo, customers depart the entrance path at The Book Loft of German Village in Columbus, Ohio. The 40-year-old bookstore features 32 rooms of books. (AP Photo/Jonathan Elderfield)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — If you are longing to lose yourself in a good read and happen to find yourself in this capital city, you might consider getting lost in a 32-room bookstore, The Book Loft of German Village.

The independent bookstore, which opened more than 40 years ago, is a maze of literature, selling everything from the latest releases and best-sellers to children’s and bargain books, from manga and horror to history and memoir.

The Book Loft is located south of downtown Columbus in the German Village neighborhood, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The neighborhood was settled extensively by German immigrants in the first half of the 1800s. It was considered a slum in the mid-20th century but thanks to revitalization efforts is now one of the most sought-after real estate ZIP codes in Ohio.

The store is located in a small strip of handsome red brick, pre-Civil War buildings that once housed general stores, a saloon and a nickelodeon movie theater. Visitors will see a “Willkommen” sign and a garden path lined with park benches, reminiscent of a European outdoor cafe. Above the entrance in a patio filled with low-priced books hang both U.S. and German flags.

The interior is truly a warren of interconnected rooms. The shop provides a map to guide intrepid readers on their quest to locate literary gems among the tomes. Every inch of the 32 rooms is filled with books on wooden shelves. Narrow hallways, with barely enough room to squeeze past other patrons, lead to more rooms, or to nooks and cul-de-sacs, to stairs, bends and dead-ends.

Open seven days a week, and brimming with 150,000 individual titles and over 500,000 books in stock, The Book Loft also brims with shoppers. At times almost cramped with bookworms, the store is one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores with a unique feel unmatched by big chains or even smaller indie bookstores.

It’s a few blocks from the state capitol building and also near some of the city’s best restaurants, such as Lindey’s and G. Michael’s, not to mention the tourist favorite Schmidt’s Sausage Haus.

Patience and perseverance are required to find the rooms and books you are looking for. And yes, you’d be guaranteed to find your title faster with an online search, but there’s nothing like that feeling you get browsing in a physical bookstore: a love of books among both shoppers and staff, and a feeling of pride in keeping a beloved indie store going.

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