Speaking Volumes: a collector’s goldmine for books, records and more

Henry Padnos

Speaking Volumes in Burlington, VT  is located at 377 Pine Street, behind Meyer’s Bagels, and the Barge Street Canal. The shop is home to a widespread selection of books and records as well as captivating memorabilia such as old postcards, sports cards, and stereoscopic photos. The record store, filled with boxes and sliding shelves of records is located across the street at 7 Marble Ave.

Photo: Henry Padnos
License Plates at Speaking Volumes for $5

“You’ll find something here that you didn’t even know you were interested in or you wanted, but you’ll just walk by a title and be like ‘oh wow that could really benefit my life’, or ‘that sounds really interesting to me and I didn’t even know someone wrote about it’,” Lucy Drummond, an employee at Speaking Volumes, said.

Photo: Henry Padnos
An assortment of unique items for sale

While today it seems like many people choose to read online or don’t read at all, Drummond says they still get plenty of students shopping there.

“I would say it’s a pretty solid balance between older demographics, and then actually a lot of younger students and a lot of younger people who are also reading books and want to buy books,” said Drummond.

While some items at the store are more unusual and may not be found in other bookstores, such as license plates (for only $5), Speaking Volumes is filled with classic books too.

“Of any of the classics that you have to read you can probably find a cheaper version here.” said Drummond.

Speaking Volumes began as a bookstore in 2007. They have since added records to their shelves.

“We started as a bookstore,” Drummond said. “The owner’s daughter one day was like I think we should sell some records. So he literally let her sell records out of a crate at some corner, and that did really well. Then we expanded and became half records in the front of the store, and books in the back of the store.”

The initial success with selling records caused Speaking Volumes to expand their record selection to a different venue.

“Three years ago, Norbert, the owner, started a spot across the street and moved all the records there,” said Drummond.

Since then, the bookstore has gone back to selling books in both halves of the store.

At both the record store and bookstore, the workers of Speaking Volumes strive to keep prices reasonable to those selling and buying books.

“We have a pretty good reputation in the area for paying fair prices for people’s estates, lots, and books,” said Drummond.

While some people choose to sell books to Speaking Volumes, others choose to donate their books.

Photo: Henry Padnos A plethora of books line the walls of Speaking Volumes’ bookshop

The wide range of books, records, and memorabilia fits the wide taste of those that come into Speaking Volumes.

“We have some regulars who are into war history, or even 1980s gun books and stuff like that, so we carry those for sort of historic reasons,” Drummond said. 

The variety of the store holds many unique items.

“The weirder the better,” Drummond added.

Photo: Henry Padnos
The exit of Speaking Volumes surrounded by framed drawings and books