Saratoga’s lyrical ballads are a treasure trove of bookworms

SARATOGA SPRINGS — When unwitting tourists walk past the storefront of Lyrical Ballad, a locally owned downtown bookstore, they may not notice what’s unique about this quaint store. Its labyrinthine interior is just one of the surprises it offers.

In its more than 40 years of existence, the Lyric Ballads Bookstore at 7 Phila St. has attracted bookworms with its treasure trove of second-hand publications and various mayflies.It has drawn new attention from locals and tourists as the virus spreads tweet Author Melissa Caruso has more than 95,000 likes.

Described by visitors as a magical destination, the brick-and-mortar store consists of eight rooms and winding halls stacked high with new, used and rare books. “I think the structure and layout are definitely one of its selling points,” said co-owner Jason Zerrillo.

This underground secret was built in 1971 by Saratoga Springs businessman and book lover John DeMarco, who ran the store for nearly half a century and helped it sell at big-box retailers like Barnes & Noble and online sellers survive the competition.

When DeMarco died in 2019, Zerrillo, who had worked at the store for 17 years, took over with his business partner and made it a priority to maintain its charm.


For the past 40 years, Lyrical Ballads Bookstore in downtown Saratoga Springs has attracted bookworms with its labyrinth of new, used, and rare titles.


Melissa Manor/Times Alliance.

For the past 40 years, Lyrical Ballads Bookstore in downtown Saratoga Springs has attracted bookworms with its labyrinth of new, used, and rare titles.

For the past 40 years, Lyrical Ballads Bookstore in downtown Saratoga Springs has attracted bookworms with its labyrinth of new, used, and rare titles.


Melissa Manor/Times Alliance.

The vaulted room includes a collection of rare and fragile books as well as original movie posters.

According to Zerillo, the vast library contains more than 200,000 books, some of which are divided into a vaulted room due to their rarity and fragility. Accompanied by store staff, visitors can browse the protected collection, which includes first edition books worth thousands of dollars on the collector market, as well as original movie posters (see: Lord of the Rings).

A signed copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of the store’s most valuable items, although it’s not currently for sale. Other high-priced items include original copies of classic novels and books adorned with rare illustrations.

For the past 40 years, Lyrical Ballads Bookstore in downtown Saratoga Springs has attracted bookworms with its labyrinth of new, used, and rare titles.

For the past 40 years, Lyrical Ballads Bookstore in downtown Saratoga Springs has attracted bookworms with its labyrinth of new, used, and rare titles.


Melissa Manor/Times Alliance.

For the past 40 years, Lyrical Ballads Bookstore in downtown Saratoga Springs has attracted bookworms with its labyrinth of new, used, and rare titles.

For the past 40 years, Lyrical Ballads Bookstore in downtown Saratoga Springs has attracted bookworms with its labyrinth of new, used, and rare titles.


Melissa Manor/Times Alliance.

Owner Jason Zerrillo says one of the most valuable books in the series is a signed copy of Bram Stoker

To avoid falling prey to the death of an independent bookstore, Lyrical Ballads had to adapt to a challenging business environment. They took a more interesting approach to finding other ways to make money. You may notice that the store has very little online presence because face-to-face interaction is part of the appeal of the location.

Instead, the store sells a number of books that will appear in major film and TV productions, including The Age of Innocence, Met Joe Black, Sabrina, The Time Machine, The Amazing Mrs Maisel” and “Inheritance”. (Obviously, buying genuine books is cheaper than making your own.)

New stock arrives every day. From state and local history to fictional series and children’s books, the store’s offerings cater to all customers’ interests. “It sounds cheesy, but I love that someone is looking for something, especially a young man looking for a signed copy, and when they find it, they’re super excited,” Zerrillo said.

Following the trend at its home base, there is a huge selection of books related to thoroughbred racing. While people are warned to never judge a book by its cover, the myriad of beautifully decorated bindings are fascinating.

(Wandering the labyrinthine interior, meandering through the twisting halls, and exploring the seemingly never-ending collection, the writer was most fascinated by the old study. It was small, decorated with oriental rugs, and surrounded by antique bookcases , can reach the ceiling. However, its ethereal nature comes from the lines on the shelf.)

For the past 40 years, Lyrical Ballads Bookstore in downtown Saratoga Springs has attracted bookworms with its labyrinth of new, used, and rare titles.

For the past 40 years, Lyrical Ballads Bookstore in downtown Saratoga Springs has attracted bookworms with its labyrinth of new, used, and rare titles.


Melissa Manor/Times Alliance.

For the past 40 years, Lyrical Ballads Bookstore in downtown Saratoga Springs has attracted bookworms with its labyrinth of new, used, and rare titles.

For the past 40 years, Lyrical Ballads Bookstore in downtown Saratoga Springs has attracted bookworms with its labyrinth of new, used, and rare titles.


Melissa Manor/Times Alliance.

The Old Book Room is one of eight rooms in the Lyrical Ballad Bookstore labyrinth series.

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