Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Not So Easy Choices for Best Used Bookstores

The editor of Yankee Magazine asked me to select my five favorite used bookstores for their Best 5 in New England feature. It seemed easy, as I have lots of favorite used bookstores, so surely I can pick the best five?

Best 5 Used Bookstores
Oops! Imagine trying to pick your “best” grandchild? What seemed easy became a bit of a chore when I had to get down to selecting five used bookshops. Mel Allen, the editor of Yankee Magazine, gave me some grace to select an additional 10 runners-up, which helped a little. My selections appear in the January-February issue of Yankee Magazine, and the runners-up appear in the online version.

The shops I selected were:

- The Montague Bookmill – Montague MA

- Shire Book Shop – Franklin MA

- Pleasant Street Books – Woodstock VT

- Drake Farm Books – Northampton NH

- The Book Barn – Niantic CT

I feel very comfortable with these choices and the 10 honorable mentions too. They are certainly worthy candidates for someone looking for a great used book shop in New England. It’s just that there are many others equally worthy of being a Top 5 choice. In my book, A Vacationer’s Guide to Rural New England Bookstores, I write about 31 used books shops that are among my favorites.

January-February 2013 issue
Here are the 10 runners-up from Yankee Magazine:

- Big Chicken Barn – Ellsworth ME

- Carlson Turner Books – Portland ME

- Bar Harbor Book Shop – Hulls Cove ME

- Henniker Book Farm – Henniker NH

- Whitlock Farm Booksellers – Bethany CT

- The Traveler Book Cellar – Union CT

- Vintage Books – Hopkinton MA

- Book Bear – West Brookfield MA

- Myopic Books (Paper Nautilus Books) – Providence RI

- The Book Shed – Benson VT

You can visit my website, GuideToNewEnglandBookstores.com, to read the remainder of my favorite used bookstores. You can also link to Amazon to buy my Guide.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Latest Edition of Guide Book Has Arrived

A Vacationer's Guide Book to Rural New England Bookstores
Latest edition of Guide Book
The latest edition of my Guide Book, A Vacationer’s Guide to Rural New England Bookstores, was published last week and is available now for purchase. The new edition is divided into three sections; Full-Service Independent Bookstores, Used-Rare Book Shops, and One-Day Bookstore-Tour itineraries. It’s a useful Guide for someone visiting New England on vacation with an eye toward finding a good bookstore nearby their destination.

Destination Bookstores
In my view, each of these bookshops is a destination itself and that’s why it’s in the Guide. The things I look for in a book shop go beyond just the books; they include things like how helpful and knowledgeable are the staff, and the depth and interest of the collection. Does the shop provide Author signings? Does it have other products and services such as a cafĂ©, a book-club meeting room, and a children’s section?

The 39 bookstores highlighted in the Guide are my favorites, but I recognize that others will have a different collection of favorite shops. That’s okay. In fact, that’s what makes assembling the Guide so much fun for me. I have added and subtracted to the Guide over the years as things change. My concern has been that the change would be for the worse – but, it appears it has been for the better. In more than one case a Local, Independent shop has taken over the location of a previous Big Box store. Not that I’m gleeful about that (but, I am).

Another aspect of the Guide is that even folks who live in a nearby town to one of these shops can reconsider whether it’s a better idea to visit a Local, Independent or Used Book Shop, rather than a Big Box shop. Buy Local is more than a slogan to me. I think we benefit everyone when we help keep the local shopkeeper going. He or she is more inclined to be a good neighbor in my opinion; making choices about suppliers, and community participation that benefit the local economy.

My website, GuideToNewEnglandBookstores.com, maintains a list of the shops from the Guide and is a good place to find any updates to information in the Guide. It’s also a place where visitors can offer me some suggestions on shops to visit in New England. It’s amazing that there is always something new out there. If you like the Guide, let me know. If you don’t; let me know that too, so I can make it better.

If you want a copy, you can visit your local full-service bookstore and they can order it for you from the bookstore wholesalers. Give them the ISBN number (978-61863-388-0) and they won’t have any problem finding it. You can also buy the Guide direct from the publisher and now you can log on to Amazon too. It’s an age when convenience and availability are important. I shop at local bookshops for the books I didn’t know I wanted. Sometimes, when I know exactly what I want, I use an online source. I try to use a Local Independent bookshop website to place the order, so that they benefit from the purchase. So, go ahead and call your favorite book shop and ask for A Vacationer’s Guide to Rural New England Bookstores today. Thanks.