Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions regarding our store and website. If you have a question that isn't answered here, or need additional information please contact us.

*Please note that some of the information below may not reflect the constantly changing circumstances due to Covid-19.  If you would like to confirm the information you have is correct and timely, we welcome your questions!*



  1. Where are you located?
    • We are located at 67 Bestor Plaza on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution in the lower level of the Chautauqua Post Office building.  Get directions.
  2. Where do I park?
    •   During the off-season, free parking is available in the lot next to the Bookstore.  During the Chautauqua Institution Season, visitors may park in the main lot across from the Main Gate Welcome Center for a fee (at time of writing, the daily rate is $10 -- Get current rate information).
  3. How accessible is the Chautauqua Bookstore?
    • There is elevator access at the center of the building, to the right of the Bookstore's main entrance.  Three short term accessible parking spaces are included in the lot to the left of the building's main entrance; however, during the summer season, traffic on the Institution grounds is regulated -- Get CHQ Grounds traffic information.  During our snowy winter months, heated sidewalks, surface treatments, and a temporary roofed structure in front of the elevator help keep the path between the parking lot and entrances as clear as possible.    The Bookstore is on one level, with no platforms or steps separating any section of the store.  Some of our shelves and wall displays can reach from the ground to over six feet high, and our staff is happy to assist with retrieving items and/or holding items at the register to ease further browsing. Our stock of Large Print and Audiobooks onhand is generally limited, but any available title can be ordered upon request. There are no public restrooms in the Bookstore.
      If you have difficulty accessing the Bookstore, or have any further questions or comments about the Bookstore's accessibility, please let us know
  4. What are your hours?
    • Our current hours are 9-5 daily. Our summer hours (beginning June 26) will be 8-7 daily, with extended hours of 8-8 Friday and Saturday.  Any temporary changes will be noted at the top of our homepage.
  5. Do you allow dogs in the store?
  6. Can I purchase Chautauqua Gift Cards?
    • Presently, we are not selling gift cards while the Institution updates their gift card system.  We are able to accept existing gift cards as payment.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
  7. How do I contact you?


  1. If I find a book on your site, does that mean it's currently in stock at your store?
    • Not necessarily. If your order is time sensitive, please call us to confirm availability.  Books in stock are marked "on our shelves now" with a timestamp for the last inventory check.  Books with the status "Usually ships in..." are books we expect to be able to order in quickly.
  2. I received a confirmation e-mail. Does this mean that my order is ready to be picked up or has been shipped?
    • No. This just means that we've received your order, you will be contacted when your order has shipped or is ready to be picked up.
  3. When will I get my book(s)?
    • We strive to ship in-stock orders within 2-5 business days.  Delivery time depends on the method of shipping -- we use USPS and FedEx, depending on which works best for your order (usually USPS). Orders including out-of-stock items will be held until we are able to ship in full.  You will be notified of any unusual delays. 
  4. What if I need to return something?
    • Please review our return policies and contact us with any further questions.
  5. I just created an account -- why can't I login or order?
    • Once you have created a username, you should be sent an email with a password to activate your account.  If you do not see an email, check your spam folder.
  6. What forms of payment do you accept?
    •  Online, we accept credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express).  If you're picking up or shopping in-store, you may also pay in cash, personal check, or gift card. (COVID UPDATE: as of right now, we are accepting cash in only some registers.)
  7. Can I get my CLSC discount?
    • Yes!  If you purchase a current membership through our site, your account will be registered as an active member's.  Future purchases made during that CLSC year will have a 10% discount applied automatically to most titles.  For 20% off current CLSC selections, use the coupon code THEPEOPLE.  Visit the CLSC FAQ page for more information.
  8. Can I place an order online without an account?
    • No; you must have an account to place an online order.  The only information necessary to create an account is a valid e-mail address.  Create a new account here.  If you do not wish to provide this information, you may call us during business hours to place your order by phone.
  9. Where can I buy lectures?
    • Chautauqua Bookstore is no longer carrying hardcopy Chautauqua Program Lecture Recordings. Recent and upcoming lectures are available at CHQ Assembly, the online expression of Chautauqua's mission. A collection of 2000+ lectures from past years are also available for free viewing and download in the online Program Archive. A large collection of physical copies are also available through Smith Memorial Library.
  10. How much do you charge for shipping?
    • We do our best to set shipping charges to accurately reflect our cost, and as such, you may see them changing.  Currently, each US shipped order is calculated with a base charge ($4.95) and an additional small per-item charge (usually $1).  You can calculate the shipping for the items in your cart on the "checkout" page.  Some large orders may automatically be assumed to require multiple packages, and will include a base charge for each anticipated box.  If a shipment fits into fewer boxes than was calculated, a sales associate will lower the shipping charge on the order you have placed before it is processed.  Some very small items have their "per-item" charge turned off, and will only be charged the base amount.  Some very large or very delicate items that require particular packaging may have a slightly increased per-item charge.
    • Orders shipping to Canada have a $15.95 base charge and $3 item charge.
    • If you would like an order shipped to a country other than the US or Canada, that must be arranged by phone.  In these cases, we wait for the actual shipping cost from USPS, and charge a matching amount.
  11. How can I check the status of my order?
    • Log in to your account, then in 'My Account,' select the 'Orders' tab -- a list of all orders and their current status is provided.  If you have any further questions, you can use our contact page.
  12. When will my credit card be charged?
    • We will process the payment when all parts of your order have been assembled and are ready to ship.  The exception to this is orders including pre-order items that have not yet been published.  Orders containing pre-orders may be processed promptly to prevent our electronic authorization to collect payment from expiring.
  13. One of the books I'm ordering says "Coming Soon, available for pre-order," -- when will I get it, and what does that mean for the rest of my order?
    • Orders that include pre-order books won't be sent out until the order can be fulfilled in entirety.  Generally, such orders will be sent out on the book's publication date (listed near the bottom of a book's product page).  If you'd like the available items to be shipped immediately, you can include Split-Order Shipping in your order.


  1. When and where are Chautauqua Speaker booksignings?  Will every Speaker do a signing? Is a purchase necessary?
    • Most speakers with published books will also agree to a booksigning.  Typically, signings for Morning Lectures take place at 1:15 pm at the Author's Alcove between the Bookstore and Brick Walk Café, Interfaith Lecture signings take place immediately afterwards on the Hall of Missions porch, and CLSC signings take place on the porch of Alumni Hall following the lecture.  Any other signings generally take place at the lecture location immediately following the program.  These guidelines will not always be the case; it is best to verify the signing status for each event individually.  Signings follow a first-come-first-signed practice.  If your name is unusual or has several possible spellings, we recommend bringing a notecard with the preferred spelling, so Cait doesn't leave with a book addressed to Kate!  A selection of the speakers books will be available for purchase at most off-site signings, but you are welcome to bring previously purchased titles.  Although gate or event passes are necessary to attend the lectures, there is no charge associated with the booksignings.  Occasionally, only a certain selection of the author's titles will be signed; this is at the discretion of the author or their publisher.  Off-site signings will now only accept credit cards as payment. *2021 Update: as of right now, no book signings are planned for this season.  A limited number of signed book plates will be available.
  2. How can I become a CLSC member for the current year?
    • During the 9-week CHQ season, memberships are available at the CLSC Octagon, located across from Alumni Hall, and reachable by phone (716-357-6293) or email (  Out of season, memberships can be purchased through Chautauqua Bookstore, both in-store and online. (2021 update: right now, we are selling CLSC memberships year-round.)
  3. Why can't I get discounts with a CLSC Life Membership?
    • This is a common confusion.  The CLSC does not offer life memberships; Life Memberships are only available for the Alumni Association of the CLSC (formerly The Society of the Hall in the Grove).  The Alumni Association, founded in 1882, is a separate organization with its own rich history and mission (Visit the Alumni Association website).  The discount we offer reflects our involvement with and support for the yearly program presented by the CLSC.  (You can be a member of both!)