Inside an Amish Bookstore

Amish-owned Raber’s book shop in Holmes County, Ohio

Raber’s Bookstore
2467 County Road 600
Baltic, OH 43804

We’ve featured Raber’s Bookstore a number of times on this blog.  Raber’s is a longstanding Amish book seller in the heart of Holmes County.  Mary Raber, who runs the place, let me shoot a few photos during a recent visit.

rabers bookstore outside

The outside of the shop.  It is the building on the left made of cream-colored blocks.  The Raber’s crew has plans to move the shop to a new structure which is being readied next-door.

rabers books ohio

Raber’s has a good selection of religious, inspirational, and Amish-themed books.

rabers amish book store

They also have a nice children’s section.  Gas-burning Amish lights are strategically placed around the store.  You can see one in the background of this photo.  It is a bit dim inside Raber’s, but on a day like this one, the natural light coming in the windows lets you see all you need to.

amish store cash register

The register area.  This is where you chat with Mary and pay for your finds.  And pick up a business card and purple store pen, if you like.

cash register counter amish store

Close-up on the register. Yes, Mary sells a few sweets too.

Raber’s does most of their sales by catalog, but they welcome visitors.


Update: Ben J. Raber passed away in 2012. He was the second owner of Raber’s Bookstore, taking over the store in 1967 from his father John A. Raber. Raber’s best-known publication is the annual Almanac (first advertised as Der Neue Amerikanische Kalender für das Jahr 1930 in the Sugarcreek Budget) which contains an Amish ministers’ listing along with astronomical and church information.

In a 1982 Family Life article David Luthy writes that “The Calender was a turning point in Raber’s publishing venture in that it created a much wider market for book sales, reaching into Amish, Old Order Mennonite, Hutterite, and Old Colony Mennonite circles–all German-speaking people. From the first issue, the Rabers have included several pages of book lists, offering not only Raber imprints but books from other publishers as well.”

Luthy notes that the ratio of German-to-English titles offered has changed over the years, from the first list in 1930 in which nearly 9 out of 10 titles offered were in German, to the 1950 list in which 3 out of 4 titles were in English.  This ratio has fluctuated since.  Writes Luthy: “Another reflection of this trend to English is the fact that in 1970 two editions of the Calender, one in German and one in English, were issued for the first time and annually since then.”

Raber’s has not necessarily encouraged the trend to English, Luthy notes, with the vast majority of books actually published by Ben and his father being in German, with a number focused on the study of the German language (at least at the time of writing).  See “A History of Raber’s Bookstore”, Family Life, March 1982, for more.

Today Raber’s sells a range of both German and English titles.


Here’s the address if you’d like to visit Raber’s.  You can also write them for a catalog:

Raber’s Bookstore

2467 County Road 600

Baltic, OH 43804

Attached to Raber’s is a stamping shop.  We’ll have more on that shop, including photos, in a future post.

And: have you visited any Amish book stores?  If you enjoyed this post, let us know of any other book shops out there that might be worth paying a visit.

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    54 Comments

    1. Alice Aber

      Greetings!!

      This looks like a fun place to visit and shop in. I love books!! I have not been to an Amish book store yet but would love to go. Do you happen to know of any in Arthur, IL? I plan on going to Arthur next week if all works out. I will also check in with the tourist information place in the old train depot but if you know of any Erik that would be appreciated.

      Miller’s Dry Goods in Arthur has gas lamps that hang from the ceiling. They do a double duty as they provide both light and heat in the winter time. I remember the first time I was in there in the winter. It was quite warm with those gas fixtures going. It was a little dim in some areas of the store but as you said, still plenty of light to see by.

      Blessings, Alice

      1. Amish bookstore Illinois

        Alice as far as I know this is an Amish-owned shop with books, I don’t know what their selection is like:

        Clearview Fabrics & Books
        178 E Cr 500 N, Arthur, IL 61911-6262
        (217) 543-9091 ‎

        There is (was?) a book dealer a couple miles southeast of town when I was there in 2004, not sure of the name or coordinates though.

        1. Alice Aber

          Erik

          Thanks Erik!! I printed your info and will look for it while I am down there. I’ll also see if I can find the other one south of town too.

          Alice

        2. I love to read, and frequent the library in my area a lot. I am happy to know that the Amish are aloud to read books, out side of the bible that is. I had heard that books other than the bible were not aloud is some communities, is that true?

        3. Penni Pfizenmaier

          I love clear view fabrics. A wonderful selection of books. They are Mennonite mostly. They carry readers too.

    2. Ruth

      The photos could have been taken at an Amish store I often frequent in Sinking Valley, PA It is owned by two elderly Amish sisters. (Renno sisters) It is charming with greeting cards, quilts, fabric, notions, books, and necessities the Amish need for daily life. They will order anything they are able from a thick catalog they keep under the counter. If you are looking for non-electric appliances, this is the place to shop!

    3. BethR

      How fun! I’ve never seen an Amish bookstore. I wonder if in their new building they’ll have a few comfortable chairs and a Starbucks? LOL! I’ll have to look for a bookstore next time I’m near an Amish area.

    4. Ruth

      If anyone would like to visit the shop in Sinking Valley, PA, please email me and I will send you directions.

      1. Bea

        I live on Long Island New York, I would love directions to this store, thank you, Bea

    5. Looks very much like Gordonville Bookstore in Gordonville, PA- just outside of Bird In Hand.

    6. Robin Miller

      I love the rack in the Children’s section … the little denim purses and what looks like maybe a bag of happy face pins or stickers?

    7. Amish Stories

      Hey Erik I’ve not been around on Amish America for a week or so, but it looks like you are really getting around visiting Amish communities from state to state. It is kind of on the dark side at this Amish book store, and I’m not trying to use a “star wars” reference here. I have been in a few Amish shops with no gas lights but the thing that they did have working for them was plenty of natural light, but I’m getting picky here so i hope your enjoying your trip and i know some really good images will come from your visits to these Amish settlements in future posts. Richard http://www.Amishstorys.com

    8. Marilyn fron New York

      I don’t know the name of it-but in Waterloo, New York there is a bookstore in the back of the Mennonite Grocery Store. They have Amish and Mennonite novels, childrens books, school books, and more. You are kind of surprised to find a book store in the back of a grocery store when you are going up and down the grocery isles. Of course it is a huge store.
      Marilyn

    9. linda saul

      amish bookstore

      Love the pictures. I noticed they had two csh registers and also a calculator. I wonder why two ?

      1. n

        ones for the books and the other one for the stamp store!

    10. Yes, I have been to Amish bookstores … This one in fact!
      I used to haul Ben and his wife with my taxi service. (she was in a wheelchair … wonder how she is doing? That was about 4 years ago.)
      Ben is a very nice man. He gave me several books out of the store … to learn PA German. 🙂 Also gave me some good discounts on others. Nothing like taking care of your taxi driver. 🙂
      His son Aden is an interesting man (Mary’s husband). The only Amish “scrapper” that I know of. I would meet him at auctions buying up the scrap metal. When he got a few tons together he would hook his tractor to his overfilled wagons and head for Coshocton to cash out about $1500 worth of metals. Somehow he managed to get around on a rubber-tired tractor, in spite of being Old Order. But I am thinking maybe that it had a backhoe attachment, so maybe it skirted the ban on using tractors for going places. 🙂
      Mike

    11. Mona G.

      Haven’t been to an Amish book store, but the Amish stores I go to, they also have several books…..
      I also noticed the two cash registers and calculator…..aren’t these electric ??????Just wondering………

      Enjoyed your article, and the pictures….

      BTW did you receive my personal email re: butter ???? Haven’t heard from you on it !!!!

      1. Those cash registers are set up to run on batteries. The Old Order in that area are not opposed to solar, and the majority seem to have solar panels to run some lights and small equipment like this. Of course, they may just run on AA batteries.

    12. In Lancaster County, PA there is a shop on Stumptown Road that has lots of books, lots of quilts, crafts, best homemade soft pretzels, fresh milk shakes, bird houses, clocks, fudge, root beer, cakes, etc. Unfortunaly the Bus tours stop here too. Go to the crossroad of Stumptown Road and Rt. 772 (Newport Rd). Visit the Old Mill at that intersection. A guide will demostrate that the Mill still works. It use to have a post office in one corner. Free tour, but you can tip the volunteer guide. From this intersection, go NE on Stumptown Rd. (crossing 772) for about a mile and look for the beautiful farm with Green roofs to visit this Amish farm.

    13. Alice Mary

      My kind of place! JUST READ!

      I’ve never ben to Raber’s, but I’ve ordered a number of items from them, from bound books to coloring books—which are truly unique–I mean, how many children’s coloring books have you ever seen with a deer hanging from a tree, ready to be–uh–“prepared”? They’re all obviously hand-drawn by regular people—certainly not anyone trained in graphic design or art. They’re treasures!

      I had a credit from them for an item they no long carry. I’m waiting for my next order to arrive—it takes a while, but it’s worth it!

      Thanks for posting the pictures, Erik. I’d like to visit there someday!

      Alice Mary

    14. Very nice Pathway bookstore on 250W in the South Howe, Indiana church district…

      1. http://img801.imageshack.us/img801/5756/dcp0001i.jpg – – – http://img853.imageshack.us/img853/4690/dcp0002.jpg

      2. Nancee

        Amish Bookstore in Indiana

        Tom, you mentioned an Amish bookstore in West Howe(?), Indiana. Can you tell me approximately how far this is from Shipshewana, and if you know of any other Amish bookstores in the northern Indiana area? Thanks!

    15. Debbie Welsh

      In Berlin, Ohio, right in the main hub of things, is a Christian bookshop that sells lots of Amish books, fiction & non-fiction, at a really good discount. Also, the big antique shops in that area have some dealers who are selling their Amish novels at a real good price. I remember we went to this Amish variety store way back on a farm somewhere in Fredericksburg, Ohio, and they had a large book and stationery section, and it was just as dark inside as Raber’s looks.

      In Lancaster County, PA, we stop into the Gordonville Bookstore at 275 Old Leacock Road where I get a copy of The Diary, which is a white pamphlet style newspaper similar to The Budget. They sell lots of books, stationery, and stamping supplies, and sometimes even foodstuffs where I’ve gotten a hefty zip-sealed bag of local shelled walnuts for $2.00! There’s also a place called JL Bookstore at 147 Amishtown Road in New Holland, PA, but sorry to say I’ve not been there yet.

      1. Michigan Mary

        Debbie, that would have been Yoder’s Country Store, near Fredricksburg. It is a the far-end of a very long lane that runs back to several OO farms. I have been there several times – just love that place.

    16. OldKat

      To Erik or Primitive Christianity...

      In a previous life did this book store use to be a milking parlour by any chance?

      1. Oldkat, yes I remember it did have something to do with milk, but can’t recall what she said exactly.

    17. Forest

      Rocky Cedars Enterprises
      2156 Country Store Lane
      Dayton, VA 22821-2112
      (540) 879-9714

      Run by two OO Mennonite sisters. Nice selection of books, fabric, childrens puzzles, hats and other items for plain living. I got my church jacket there. Nice ladies.

    18. Michigan Mary

      OTHER AMISH BOOK SHOPS

      Has anyone ever been to Farmerstown Broom & Book. I am pretty sure that it is going out of business as I saw an “Absolute Auction” of the business in the Bargain Hunter 2 weeks ago…. bummer, it was a nice little shop.

      1. Mary, I was there a few years back. Interesting shop, as the broom maker was blind. But he was getting to be an older man, so I can easy see that he would be retiring, or died?? Mike

        1. Michigan Mary

          Mike – he did indeed pass away a couple of years back and his widow continued to run the shop. She, too, is up there in years and I think it has gotten to be too much.

          1. Farmerstown Broom and Book

            Mary on this last trip I visited Farmerstown Broom and Book and was told the same, that Blind Syl had died a couple years ago. I didn’t hear anything about a sale. The gentleman who was running the place showed me the brooms and broom-making equipment, and said someone else was helping out.

    19. Kevin Lindsey

      We stopped in Delaware at an Amish owned Fabric shop (my wife is a quilter). Now while it had a great selection of fabric, it also had alot of other goods and a wonderful book store. There were a couple of tall book shelves full! Cant remember the name of it, but we spent some money on fabric and books!

      1. Kevin Lindsey

        Found the name of the store…its Shady Lane Selections, in Dover, DE.

        1. Kevin I enjoyed visiting Shady Lane earlier this year, spent a bit more time at Sunny View (Almost sounds like they chose their names in tandem 🙂 )

    20. Lance

      There is a small, but well stocked bookstore in the coutryside west of Nappanee, IN. The store is right on the Elkhart/Marshall county line. The road is CR100 in Elkhart Co just south of US 6 or 1050W in Marshall Co. The store sits well off the road on the west side behind another set of buildings, but a sign shows you the right driveway.

    21. Simplymari

      location of amish bookstores

      Hi Erik! I really enjoy AMISH AMERICA which I just discovered this fall 2011. My Amish travels are only in Penn. (I live in northern New Jersy and travel alone).
      While I was in the Montuar/Columbia area,
      I asked an Amish woman about the Jersy Shore area but she could not give me any details so as not to disturb their privacy. Is there a Jersey Shore area along the Susquahana River that is friendly to tourists? I love quilt/fabric shops, bookstores and basically anything Amish.
      I have a very old copy of AMISH COMMUNITIES and would love to get the newest edition so I can find more of these special little shops. Is there a bookstore that accept mail-orders?
      I am already looking forward to a trip this spring.
      Keep up the good work!
      Marianne Penn

    22. Robert Schwind

      AMISH BIBLE GERMAN

      I believe that the Amish use the Luther translation of the Bible of 1542 in German. Do you carry the same and, if so, at what price? Robert Schwind

      1. Alan Munday

        Re: AMISH BIBLE GERMAN

        If it is any help, a version of the original Luther Bible is available for download from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/bible/delut otherwise, including if you are happy to have an updated language version, these are readily available on sites like Amazon. Further searches may turn up copies of the original version, but these would be in German Gothic script, as I believe Amish source materials are, so you may have difficulties in reading them anyway.

        I believe the eSword Bible has a module of this Bible available as would Crosswire, which provides modules for a few free Bible softwares. The sites for these are –
        http://www.e-sword.net/ and http://www.crosswire.org/

    23. Alan Munday

      Amish On-line bookstores ? A Contradiction in terms !

      What a pity that by virtue of their life, Amish people do not run on-line book services. It would be so helpful.

      On the other hand, if there are online book stores who sell Amish published books, and who take payments online from outside the USA, details of these would be most helpful.

      It is particularly difficult for people, like me, who are interested but who do not live in North America and short of being able to make a personal visit, or know someone who is able to, is unable to benefit. Similarly where sending a UK bank cheque, to a terrestrial book store in North America would not be any use.

      I know that there is a fair number of related books on Amazon, by non-Amish or former Amish, so there is no need to take up your time advising on these, thank you.

      1. Alan, try http://www.scrollpublishing.com. They sell a lot of Pathway Publishing materials, and I am pretty sure would be used to shipping to the UK (although I dont know how much shipping cost would be.)

        1. Alan Munday

          Re: Amish On-line bookstores ? A Contradiction in terms !

          Thank you for your advice, although I have discovered them myself. Unfortunately their shipping price is unreasonably high and most disproportionate to the cost of the book I was interested in. Other suppliers from the USA use much less expensive methods of shipping that are not anywhere near as discouraging of doing business compared to Scroll Publishing !

    24. Al in Ky

      I was in the LaGrange County, Indiana, area last week shopping at
      Amish stores, and stopped by Pathway Bookstore which was located
      in the rural LaGrange area. As I entered the store, in the entryway was a big poster that said the store closed in July, 2014,
      due to low volume of in-store customers. They have moved to Bloomingdale, Michigan. I will get the address and put it on another post. They still do mail order. On the poster was a listing of several bookstores in the LaGrange area which sell some of the Pathway books, so I was able to purchase the two books I wanted at another store. But, I will miss the Pathway Store at
      LaGrange because I usually stopped by there at least once each year. It was a unique store and very interesting to anyone interested in learning more about Amish faith and life.

      1. Thanks for sharing this Al. I had heard this was in the works but didn’t know where they ended up. It was a nice store in that community, but aligned with what they are saying, every time I went in there it was pretty quiet.

    25. Al in Ky

      New address for Pathway Bookstore:

      43623 CR 390
      Bloomingdale, Michigan 49026

      I agree with your comments, Erik. I was in the Pathway Bookstore at LaGrange at least once a year the past five years and always was the only customer in the store at the time. I guess local Amish people didn’t go there much nor did many of the thousands of tourists who visit the area each year. I looked up the Bloomingdale settlement in the 2014 Raber’s Almanac. There is only one district listed with only one minister, no bishop or deacon. Must be a small settlement.

      1. Jenn

        Is Pathway Bookstores connected to Pathway Publishers of LaGrange IN who publishes the Pathway Readers?

        1. Yes, the main Pathway Publishers “HQ” is actually in the Amish settlement in Aylmer, Ontario, but up until recently they had a bookstore and presence in Lagrange County. That has since moved to Bloomingdale, Michigan. I’m not sure if the Pathway Readers are physically published in the US or Canada though.

      2. Meigen

        Retail store?

        Is the Bloomingdale address a retail store as well? Do they have shopping hours?

    26. blogs on traveling book sales

      Erik, I’m looking for blogs you may have written about your experiences as a traveling book salesman selling to the Amish. Could you point me in the right direction? Thanks!

    27. Shanelle Watts

      Is there a phone number to Rabor’s Book Store? One of our Amish neighbors in Clarita, OK would like the Suffering of Christ book in English instead of German.

    28. Elena Velazquez

      Love this

      I’m 40 this year and I still say even as a pretty good cook myself that the best food I’ve ever had was visiting the Amish… I’m from Buffalo upstate New York we used to drive the countryside for hours with my dad on the weekends and the Amish for always so welcoming and kind of course I’m communities were different definitely…. And we would quickly respect them and leave or keep the purchase quick and leave but for the most part I have great memories of the woman being graciously and kind to me I didn’t have a mother ever and some of these ladies would talk to me and make me feel wonderful…. I don’t really watch TV so I don’t know anything about the popular shows people watch about the Amish but now I have children and would really love to visit these different communities so that my kids too can have that wonderful memory thank you for this articles of these amazing communities

    29. Kim Caton

      Re: water bath canning

      I’m looking for a book which teaches you about water bathing all canned foods and times. I do not want pressure canner instructions, just water bathing. I was lead to a l
      book “The Esh Family Cookbook: The Humps Unknown Binding” but I can’t find it anywhere. Do you have a book which would fit my description? Thank you!

    30. Kurtis

      Catalog

      My son is a beginning reader and needs appropriate books how can I contact the store