A Visit to Gordonville Book Store (Lancaster County, PA)

Of all the different kinds of Amish businesses, places selling food and books are two of my favorites (with the classic variety store also in the mix – see 5 Amish Businesses You Should Visit).

Recently while in Lancaster County I dropped by two spots that some of you might know – BB’s Grocery Outlet, and Gordonville Book Store.




I’m sharing some photos from both here today and next week, starting with Gordonville Book Store.

It’s a regular stop anytime I am in Lancaster County. Usually the first thing I do once inside is hang a quick right to this section by the door:

And grab one of these:

If you’re not familiar with it, this is Raber’s Almanac, primarily a listing of Amish churches and ministers, but also including church schedules for Scripture and hymns, as well as some old-fashioned farmer’s almanac folk knowledge.

Gordonville Bookstore has a wide array of books, including tomes relating to Amish church such as Bibles and prayer books, inspirational literature, and a pretty healthy Amish fiction section.

The store is Amish-owned and run, and based on who I see each time I’m there, I would guess has a majority Amish clientele.

As in many Amish stores, some aisles can be rather dimly lit – in this case by traditional skylights, with the option to fire up gas lamps if needed. It was an overcast day, but still the natural light was enough:

You’ll find not only books here but other items like calendars, school and writing supplies, and more. On this visit just before Easter I found a holiday section with some peanut butter eggs for a $1.50 apiece. I abstained, but they looked tasty:

The Book Store is not to be confused with Gordonville Print Shop, which is located nearby and produces Amish school texts among other publications.

While there I spotted something which made me smile:

Here’s a closer shot of what I’m talking about:

My Amish business book is still on their shelves 8 years after publication, which tells me someone is buying it here.

As always, I picked up a few things to read on this visit. First, a recent copy of The Diary:

This is a church directory covering Lancaster County daughter settlements:

A Lancaster County Business Directory (these are free):

I also got a couple of books by people who became Amish via adoption. Here’s one of them:

If you’re in Lancaster County, I’d recommend a visit to this place. It’s one of the best-known Amish bookstores. Here’s where you’ll find it:

Gordonville Book Store
275 Old Leacock Rd
Gordonville, PA 17529

If you’ve ever been here, let us know in the comments!

Get the Amish in your inbox

Join 15,000 email subscribers. No spam. 100% free

    Join the Amish America Patreon for bonus videos & more!

    Similar Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    30 Comments

    1. Garry Chaney

      print shop

      I was at the print shop about a month ago. I got a tour of the shop. Very interesting.

      1. Neat. I’ve never been in the print shop.

    2. Bob Brunsdon

      A Visit to Gordonville Book Store

      I have been there only once, I think. My Amish friend and I took his granddaughter to work there one day. Thanks for printing the address. He was directing me and I had forgotten exactly where we went.

    3. Walter Boomsma

      A Favorite Stop...

      We tend to visit the area at least once or twice a year and the Gordonville Book Shop is a “must visit.” (We’re both bibliophiles we tend to sniff out bookstores in general, but really love this one.) I’m an educator and writer so I truly enjoy some of the “special” books one finds here… including books for Amish teachers.

      Several years ago we were in the company of a tour guide from the Mennonite Center (highly recommended) and he asked if we’d mind stopping there as he was waiting for a very specific book he’d ordered. We’d retained him to help us find some truly “off the beaten path” places even though we think we are quite familiar with the area. We knew the store but were willing to accommodate his request to stop because it is such a fun place. My sense is this is also “the place” for those researching Amish history, culture, and genealogy.

      I would not have passed up the peanut butter eggs.

      Thanks for the photo of “The Diary.” Could I interest you in doing a review and providing subscription information?

    4. Aj

      I got to make a stop there sometime. My girlfriend lives near Kutztown. She has a typical old order Mennonite last name from the area. I love rural PA. The scenery, culture, etc, is still very vibrant.

    5. Nicholas

      I haven’t been to Gordonville, but I must ask, Erik, how on earth could you pass up those chocolate peanut butter eggs?! You must have more self control than I. I’ve tended to stick to Indiana Amish bookstores, as I’m myself a Hoosier. The only semi-dedicated bookstore I can think of is on SR 5 just north of Shipshewana. Not sure of the current name and I think it used to have more books before changing name and maybe owners. Allen County doesn’t seem to have one, just a book section in Miller’s Country Store. That’s where I got my current leather bound English-German Bible.

      1. Al in Ky

        Gordonville Book Store sounds like a place I’d like to visit.

        When I am in the Elkhart-Lagrange, Indiana, settlement I like to visit the Heritage Book Store at 7785 W 500 N, Shipshewana. This is the book store which bought out the stock at Creekside Book Store on SR 5 (which Nicholas was mentioning), which is now closed. Heritage Book Store is near where Creekside Book Store was located. Heritage is smaller than Creekside and only carries books, but is a very good Amish book store in a small building on the farm of the owners. Currently it is open on Tue., Wed., Fri., and Sat. from 8 to 5. I visited there last week and had an interesting visit with the owner.

        1. Nicholas

          Thanks for the update, Al. Is the variety store still there where Creekside used to be?
          Not sure when I’ll next be up that way, but I hope to remember to go find this new bookstore!

          1. Al in Ky

            The building where the variety store/Creekside Book Store was is now Bontrager Engine Service.

      2. Nicholas, good question, I regret it a bit, especially since I’ve gotten at least one other comment from someone who has raved about those eggs…:)

        As far as Indiana Amish bookstores, when I am there I go to the one north of Shipshewana (Creekside Bookstore). I have also gone to the Pathway Publishers bookstore, though seem to vaguely recall they might have moved locations, it has been awhile.

        In Allen County, I have found books in 2 places, but that was about 10 years back. They weren’t dedicated full bookstores, but had a section with books – one might have been the Miller’s Country Store you mention.

        1. Al in Ky

          Erik — Creekside Bookstore closed a couple of years ago or so. Their building now houses Bontrager Engine Service. Creekside’s stock was bought out by a couple who opened Heritage Bookstore at 7785 W 500 N Shipshewana. It is open Tues., Wed., Fri., and Sat. from 8 to 5. It is much smaller than Creekside but carries a good supply of books. It is worth a stop there if you’re in the Elkhart-Lagrange settlement.

          Pathway also closed their store at Lagrange, Ind. four years ago or so, and moved to 43632 CR 390 Bloomingdale, Michigan, 49026.

          1. Ah, thanks Al. That’s what I seemed to recall with Pathway – there is a Michigan address in some places online, but can still find the Lagrange address in spots as well.

            I did not know about Creekside closing, that status seems to have not been updated in Google. Thanks for the info, and good to know about Heritage Bookstore for next time.

    6. OldKat

      Your books

      Erik, your comment on Success Made Simple by some guy named Wesner, or something like that, reminded me to ask about your other book; 50 Fascinating Amish Facts.

      The link to it on this site still says something about “coming soon” and mentions something about the release date. Is that out dated info, or has that book still not been released? If it has, how do I order a copy?

      Thanks,
      DOK

      1. 50 Fascinating Amish Facts

        Oldkat – nice of you to mention that – 50 Facts, also by some guy named Wesner, is not released yet – the project is 95% complete, publication got semi-derailed by some life events, but I hope to have it out later this year. I’ll be sharing more on that here on the site as it approaches.

        I’m excited about it, was a lot of fun to write. At this stage I’ve had it read/reviewed by 8-10 Amish and non-Amish readers, and have incorporated their feedback for the final version. Will keep you posted 🙂

        1. OldKat

          50 Fascinating Facts

          Another fascinating fact is that in a little over 2 months OldKat is retiring & will have ample time to read/review any Amish books by some guy named Wesner that might happen to need reviewing/reading.

          Just sayin’ …!

          1. Mr. Oldkat, thanks for that notice – so I can wish you a happy retirement in advance, and also we’re in touch 😉

    7. Joan

      Always stop at Gordonville Book Store

      We travel to Lancaster County about once a year and we’ve made the Gordonville Bookstore a “Must See” every time for many years now. I’ve purchased many books here as well as rubber stamps from their large inventory. They also have a good supply of greeting cards at good prices. I think you’ll find something for everybody. Oh yes…they also have a great toy and game section. We always tell people to “turn by the bank in Paradise” and follow that road. You’re gonna love it!!

      1. Great plug for the store Joan 🙂 I usually focus on the books, but a good chunk of it is other things like you mention.

    8. Loretta Shumpert

      A favorite stop

      Each time I’m in Lancaster County I must go to Gordonville Bookstore, usually more than once 🙂 Been going for a number of years.

      Even from home I have called and had them ship a book to me. If there’s a book that you can’t find elsewhere as is the case with some amish related books, give them a call.

      1. Jess

        Shipping books?

        I’d love to read From City Streets to Buggy Seats, but can’t find it at my library or even Amazon. Can I call and order from this store? If so, how?

        1. Gordonville Book Store Phone Number

          Hi Jess, their number is +1 717-768-3512, so I think you’ll be able to use that one to order.

          I’ve never called them, but I assume they have some kind of message service where you can leave your info. I don’t have From City Streets to Buggy Seats in front of me now, but as I recall it wasn’t very expensive, something around $10.

          1. Jess

            Thank you!

            Thank you, Erik! I will give them a call 🙂

            1. Sure thing Jess! I hope you can get a copy.

    9. great bookstore but staff is not really friendly

      Hello, I’m from Germany and I’ve visited the bookstore twice (in 2012 and about two weeks ago). They have very interesting papers and I especially love the reprints of old books. But I found it in 2012 and now again – the staff is absolutely not friendly. They had not been when we went there the first time and were not now.
      They looked at me in a way like saying “Get your books, pay, and leave soon.” My wife whose English is not so good realized it at once when we had our stuff together and stood at the counter to pay. She had left it all behind and leave at once but I can endure arrogance quit well … and I wanted the books. So I stayed friendly to the older gentleman and the younger lady, talked to them as if nothing would be there between us, spoke in English with some German words in between, always waiting for a response in German or Pennsylvania Dutch, but I had to wait until the very last moment when we had paid and were about the leave, when the man behind the counter pressed a “Ein guden Dag” through his lips. That made me smile.
      I will surely come again the next time I’ll be in the area.

      1. Interesting to hear that impression Roland, yes I think it might be a more subdued family/staff which runs it. I’ve never gotten into any kind of conversation there with anyone, with the possible exception of last times some light chat but that was more from my Amish friend who was with me at the time. It may just be the demeanor of the folks there – I’ve never had anyone be rude to me, but if you’re used to very friendly/outgoing Amish (more typical in say a PA Dutch market which sells a lot of food/other stuff to non-Amish), then it might seem unfriendly.

    10. Darlene Madsen

      VERY UNFRIENDLY SHOP

      We have been going to Lancaster County for 15 years and have gone in MANY Amish shops. This particular bookstore has very unfriendly staff. There were several women taking inventory up and down the isles. Not ONE looked my way or acknowledged me…it was like I wasn’t even there. I kept smiling in case one of them looked my way. The older gentleman looked at me when I entered but no greeting at all. I put my items down and left without purchasing a thing. Have not had this awful experience in any other shop in that area.

      1. no change - what a pity

        Hello, Darlene,
        So nothing has changed for two years. What a pity. Well, nothing has changed for 12 years – first time we have been there.
        They have that Amish genealogy books and I really would like to get a copy. But have no idea how to get them. I assume I will not get any answer in case I write a letter. Weird.
        Roland

    11. Walter Boomsma

      On the other hand...

      The Mrs. and I were in the store several weeks ago and had a very pleasant experience–in fact, I had a good laugh with the Amish Woman who waited on me when it was time to check out. When we are in the area we have several legitimately Amish-owned businesses we patronize. Compared to the stores that cater to tourists, shopping is perhaps, as Erik suggested, more “subdued” and that’s too often interpreted as “unfriendly.” No, this is not a store where staff runs up to you with friendly greetings but I’ve found that to be true in other Amish owned and staffed businesses as well–even when the customers are Amish. I think it reflects the Amish sense of independence and self-sufficiency that effectively thinks “If they need help, they’ll ask.” Let’s not forget, the Amish think and act differently than we English. Unlike the tourist traps, they are not chasing our money or our favor–one reason I actually prefer shopping there over other bookstores. I also suspect they could tell some pretty horrible stories about the way tourists have treated them while shopping (I’ve seen a few examples first hand)–but they don’t. They accept and forgive. When traveling to a foreign country, it’s important to understand the culture of that country. People are going to act differently. This bookshop is not in a foreign country but it is a fundamentally different culture. I tend to think of myself and act as a guest more than a customer. So while shopping in any Amish owned and operated store or business is “different,” I can honestly say I’ve never been treated “rudely.” This is a great little store (fairly recently expanded and not so little anymore, so they must be doing something right!) and a fun place to visit.

    12. Loretta Shumpert

      My experiences

      I’ve been going there for years, each time I am in town. While they haven’t been talkative, neither have they been rude. I used to see the older man in there with other family members, he never had anything to say until the day he was in there alone. When I was checking out I mentioned that I had flown in and only had one suitcase so I had to be careful what I bought. He was interested in my experiences on airplanes and asked questions…we actually had a very nice conversation. It actually surprised me, a little.

      I have ordered a book or two from them when I couldn’t find it anywhere else. I phoned from my home state and told them what I wanted. A few days later it was at my door.

      When I was there this past May, it was the same thing, no personal conversation. I, however, will initiate a conversation wherever I go so that helps and they will usually respond with a smile and reply kindly.

    13. Nancy Byrne

      Wonderful store!

      We travel to Lancaster county from central NY every summer, and this store is always on our list of places we must visit. They also have a wonderful assortment of books for grandchildren.