Skip to main content

The Otto Bookstore History

The Otto Bookstore: A Legacy

When the doors first opened in 1841, The Otto Bookstore was known as A.D. Lundy and Co., which sold a variety of goods, including window shades, wallpaper, insurance, and books. New technologies at the time helped the book business to grow, as books were becoming more affordable to the general public. 

At that time, you would likely find titles from such authors as Edgar Allen Poe, along with the likes of James Fenimore Cooper, Charles Dickens, Catherine Gore, A.K. Tolstoy, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Alexander Pushkin, Ralph Waldo Emmerson, Washington Irving, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

By the turn of the 20th century, the name had shifted from A.D. Lundy and Co to the Loan Book Shop, under John Otto. In 1905, Jack Roesgen began working at the store, eventually buying the store from the Otto family in 1940. He and his family ran the store until his death in 1958, when his daughter Betsy Rider took over along with her mother. 

Over the next five decades, Betsy made the Otto Bookstore into a booklover's paradise, where generations of readers from Williamsport and beyond would gather to find something new and exciting to read. The store location changed several more times over the years before settling in its current location in the early 1990s.  In 2016, the bookstore marked its 175th anniversary, elevating it to the status of the country's oldest independently owned bookstore. 

The Otto Bookstore changed hands in 2017 when Katy Nassberg and husband Isak bought the store from Betsy and her family.  Katy emphasized her personal connection with the store’s legacy within the local community: “I grew up making trips to the Otto Bookstore as a girl and know firsthand just what great caretakers of this institution the Rider family has been.” Katy added, “We are honored to continue serving the community by providing great stories for the next generation of readers.”

The Otto - 1095

The Otto - 1963

The Otto - 1966

The Otto - 2020


The Loan Book Shop - 1905


The Otto Bookstore - 1963


The Otto Bookstore - 1966


Otto Bookstore - 2020