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While away the rest of winter with a good book or three. (Photo courtesy of Black Cat Books)

Spotify recently turned a page late last year when it began offering 15 hours per month of free audiobook content to Premium subscribers. It became the newest chapter in a rather thick book on how technology has changed reading. Even a Kindle feels dated at this point. In short, gone are the days when a hard copy was your only option.

Yet, getting lost in a good, physical book you can hold in your hands and read with your eyes has its benefits. For starters, there’s no blue light. And it may transport you to simpler times when bedtime routines included stories that weren’t of the Instagram variety. If you’re looking to build a library, you can swipe and tap your way to doing so or head to a big box retailer. However, for a true throwback experience, head to an independent bookstore and peruse the shelves as you take in the distinctly earthy, warm smell of paper and ink. The North Fork has a handful of locally-owned bookshops. The intimate spaces are staffed by your neighbors, who are ready to make your experience personal with their inventory knowledge and eagerness to make recommendations.

Your next read awaits at these top independent bookstores on the North Fork, from Riverhead to Shelter Island and Greenport in between.

A Book Place, 489 E Main St., Riverhead, 631-405-7902

A Book Place in Riverhead has a large table of new reads front and center. (Photo credit: Tara Smith)

Nestled near bustling large businesses like the Long Island Aquarium and Hilton Garden Inn, A Book Place’s quiet, intimate digs provide a welcome respite from it all. For East Moriches native Jocelyn Maningo Kaleita, the shop’s opening was the fulfillment of a long-time dream — a story she told herself that became a non-fiction tale and made A Book Place the first independent bookstore in downtown Riverhead in more a decade. Light wooden shelving and photos of the sun setting over local waters set a scene that feels authentically East End. Speaking of which, you’ll find Long Island-inspired reads, but an array of fiction books allow you to escape to another place entirely if you fancy. Non-fiction finds like biographies also line the shelves.

Burton’s Book Store, 43 Front St., Greenport, 631-477-1161

Burton’s Book Store has proven to be resilient, even amid the ever-changing tides of publishing (and ownership). The shop has been a Front Street mainstay for more than five decades, even with ownership changes, with Scott Raulsome buying the store from George Maaiki in 2014. Today, Burton’s feels as cozy as the idea of curling up with a good read on a snowy day. History, cooking, poetry and classic fiction can all be uncovered on Burton’s Book Store’s shelves. There are also options for young readers.  

Finley’s Fiction, 8 Grand Ave., Shelter Island Heights, 203-650-7616

Make new friends and find some old ones at Finley’s Fiction, which stocks literary classics and titles from debut authors. Don’t let the name fool you — non-fiction books can also be found on the shelves. Owner Finley Shaw carefully selects each title she carries, and members of her brood, including her husband and four children, can often be found hanging around the store — the family-friendly nature of Finley’s Fiction isn’t just a narrative. Speaking of which, the store also has plenty of reads geared toward children and young adult readers, and customers can also browse toys, puzzles and games that’ll keep minds of all ages sharp. Can’t make it to the shop? Want someone else to pick your next read for you? Monthly book subscriptions for children and adults include reads hand-picked by Shaw herself.

Black Cat Books, 54 N Ferry Road, Shelter Island, 631-725-8654

Black Cat Books opened in 1996. The shop, with a shingled exterior feels idyllic and charming if a little bit dated, from the outside. Inside, well-lit digs make it easy to browse shelves of tens of thousands of second-hand books. Rare first editions of books like Lewis Carroll’s poems are among the treasures that have been found over the years. Modern-day bestsellers and stunning photography books that make a picture-perfect addition to a coffee table are also available. Black Cat Books also buys books, including expansive estate and small personal collections.