This NYC Bookshop Will Trade You Pickles for Books

by Peter Candia
sweet pickle books

What if I told you that you could trade the books collecting dust on your shelf for delicious, handmade pickles? Trading books for pickles sounds like something I’d come up with in the deepest of my slumbers. In fact, I think I remember dreaming something similar a while back. So, to discover that a place called Sweet Pickle Books was doing just that was—well—a dream come true. Literally.

Sweet Pickle Books is located at 47 Orchard Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and the name can be taken at face value. That’s because Sweet Pickle Books has developed a system of book donations that rewards the generous gifters with jars of artisanally made pickles. 

How It Works

It’s simple. Bring any four books (excludes textbooks and religious texts, though books on religion are okay) and you will be rewarded with a jar of pickles. 

This sounds silly, but through this method, Sweet Pickle Books is able to keep stocked shelves of books daily that are available to purchase just as you would at a “normal” bookstore. They get so many donations in fact, that they often have to refuse them because the shelves simply cannot fit any more books. 

The Vision

Leigh Altshuler opened Sweet Pickle Books because of her love for books and commitment to encouraging others to read. She wanted to offer a new life to people’s old books—ones that otherwise might sit on a shelf and never get read. By offering an incentive (and a unique one at that), Altshuler cracked the code on how to encourage book donation. 

The idea was born out of a deep look at LES’s history with pickle making. The neighborhood was historically a hotbed for Jewish delicatessens, home to the likes of Katz’s, Russ and Daughters and other legendary delis. Pickle making was (and still is) abundant in LES and Sweet Pickle Books is paying homage to that. 

The pickles available are bread and butter, dill spears and a spicy farmhouse style. Each jar is handpacked and contains fresh ingredients. 

Pickles, Books, Records and More

But, what if you don’t have any books to give, but still want a taste of the pickles everyone is raving about? Not a problem, pickles are sold separately and can be bought at their online store, along with books, merchandise, records and more. 

Sweet Pickle Books buys and accepts donations of all kinds—whether that be large libraries of books, record collections, or just unique, novelty items. The quirky bookstore is bringing something new to the table in their style of operation, and hopefully, it can help in a collective effort to repopularize reading amongst the general public. 

Sweet Pickle Books is open Tuesday through Sunday. The pickle exchange is only available in-person, but regular shopping can be done online in addition to in-store. 

About the Author/s

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Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for writing midway through school and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. In addition to food, Peter enjoys politics, music, sports and anything New Jersey.

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