The back porch of With Pipe and Book looks out over Mirror Lake in the Olympic Village of Lake Placid. In the winter, which in the Adirondacks can mean October through April, the view is like a Currier & Ives print — the technology of skating and sledding has changed very little. Nor has the technology of reading — books don’t become obsolete the way LPs or eight-tracks do. Like all good used-book stores, this is a recycling center, a place where what is old to one person can become new for another. And even more, it is a sort of museum. A new bookstore may cover a wide range of subjects, but not of times; except for a few classics, it is relentlessly up-to-date. But at With Pipe and Book, neither time nor topic matters — a book is a book. In the bargain basement, Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery rubs shoulders with The Collected B.C., and the Cub Scout handbook shares shelf space with that 1931 classic Sex Hostility in Marriage: Its Origin, Prevention, and Treatment. It’s like a human mind — the frivolous crammed in with the solemn, the profane with the sacred.
All day long people wander into the high-ceilinged store just to rummage. And even though this is Lake Placid, where half the inhabitants are trying to make the national luge or ski jump or hockey squad, not many complain about the aroma of tobacco that fills the room or the humidor that steals turf from the books. That’s because the place smells so powerfully nice — not only can you find the storybook Grandpa read you, you can also smell his lap. I hate cigarette smoke; cigars are for political hacks; I’ve never even put a pipe in my mouth. But the light caramel fragrance of owner Breck Turner’s special Adirondac Mixture sitting in its curing bin — it’s a smell to remind you that age is as good as youth, and not just in books.
— Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature, has just finished a book on the Age of Information.