I know I wrote that indie bookstores would be my only points of interest, but this is Walden Pond!  It is wonderful to look at, even with that state road running beside it, and I think, if possible, if you’re a bibliophile,  you should make a point of visiting.  It is a national treasure, and I think it is as important a symbol of America as The White House or The Washington Monument.  If anyone is actually following this trek of mine across America, I hope they’ll give me a pass on the occasional pit stop.  I’ll keep it focused on literature, and I won’t do very many.P1000764

An update on my travels: I’ve driven nearly 2,000 miles already and visited 31 stores.  I’m getting them posted as quickly as I can, so bear with me.

I’m leaving for Germany today where I’ll be touring for the German edition of Valeria’s Last Stand, but I’ve found some German indies and I’ll find a pit stop and I will post those as bonuses.

Thanks for reading!

A replica of Thoreau's Cabin

A replica of Thoreau's Cabin

Published in: on May 23, 2009 at 2:54 pm  Comments (1)  

#18 The Vermont Bookshop

The Vermont Book Shop

The Vermont Book Shop

38 Main Street
Middlebury, VT 05753
Tel: (802) 388-2061







This store should win a prize for being the longest drive!  I drove up and over a mountain, drove past the Bread Loaf campus even.  I ended up on the West side of Vermont in the Champlain Valley, south of Burlington.


There are only 600,000 people in Vermont and only 4,000 people in Middlebury, the college town where this store stands on Main Street.  The Vermont Book Shop is an institution of its own.  It opened its doors in 1949.  A few years ago, new owner Becky Dayton renovated it and dragged it into the 21st century.                                                                                                                                             look at these cases


And she’s done a bang-up job.  This is a lovely store.  The books are thoughtfully presented in well-lit, handsome cases.  Becky knows she’s bought into something special and admits, “I’m just a steward.”  


A local who visited the store as a teenager, when the opportunity to buy-in became a possibility, she did and hasn’t looked back.  She’s part of the Buy Local movement, and offers discounts to members of the local co-op.


This is also one of those book stores where the selection of books is carefully tailored for the community.  In fact, the book buyer has been here for thirty years.     


She has a good core of regular customers and the town swells each summer and fall when tourists, parents, and students come to town. 


Dogs are welcome!


Published in: on May 23, 2009 at 2:20 pm  Comments (1)  

#17 The Norwich Bookstore

The Norwich BookstoreThe Norwich Boosktore
Norwich Square
291 Main Street
Post Office Box 307
Norwich, VT 05055



About two miles from Dartmouth College stands The Norwich Bookshop.  For fifteen years, this store has been an integral part of the community.  Three seconds in the store and it’s easy to see why.  The Norwich is just a great place to spend time.  In fact, it seems like the customers who were in the store were there visiting as much as they were browsing.   

Owners Liza and Penni run the operations and work closely with schools and even Dartmouth, to host events offsite or in the store.  This is a comunity driven store and the selections–once again–are tailored to community tastes.  There is a large children’s section on the 2nd floor.  There is also a large selection of sidelines here.  They also offer free wrapping.

Working hard to be a part of their community, Liza and Penni stress the importance of personal service and handselling.  It’s easier when you are friendly wirth your customers.                                                                                                                                           P1000785

Their location has also helped this store in that they’re across the street from a school and only doors away from the post office, a bakery, and a wine store.  Aah, Vermont!  The Upper Connecticut River Valley.  It really is idyllic.  



Published in: on May 20, 2009 at 3:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

#16 RiverRun Bookstore

RiverRun BookstoreRiverRun Bookstore
20 Congress St.
Portsmouth, NH 03801
(603) 431-2100




Not sure how else to explain it except to say that this bookstore feels streamlined.  Clean lines.  Not sure if that’s even possible in a store, but that’s the impression I got.  Streamlined and spotless.

It’s a very handsome space.  Very well-lit.  Not at all stuffy, just clean.

RiverRun is in Portsmouth, NH, a thriving town a few minutes from Maine.  The city has about 20k citizens and a great art scene.  There are a lot of galleries and restaurants, so RiverRun benefits from a lot of the same business.

The store has been open for seven years.  They’ve worked closely with the community and host over 100 author events a year.  they also partner with Portsmouth Music Hall to host a special reading series — Writers on a New England Stage.     streamlined!!!

As far as the daily operations, RiverRun provides free shipping — to anywhere in the country — for orders made from their website.

They also have a special station called their 20/20 table — favorite books are offered at 20% discount.  

Portsmouth and RiverRun are definitely worth a look if you’re in the area.  





Published in: on May 20, 2009 at 2:54 pm  Comments (2)  

#15 The Concord Bookshop

The Concord BookshopThe Concord Bookshop
65 Main Street
Concord, MA 01742




Concord, THE Concord.  As in Minutemen and the birth of the American Revolution, dammit!  They have a book store now.  Other booksellers told me I should see it, so I popped in for a quick visit.

The book store is on Main St. and is very large and feels a lot like a library.  Shelves made of rich wood.  Serious.  Not somber, but it has . . . gravitas.

 The selection of books is bountiful, and  there is a large selection of nonfiction.  A lot of history and Biographies.  It also has great sections in Art and Poetry, though.   There is a large children’s section.                                                                                           entrance

The store opened in 1940 and moved to its present location on Main Street in the 1960’s.  They host events, supply offsite events, and work a lot with tourists in the summertime and the holidays.  A fine bookstore in a fine location.



Published in: on May 20, 2009 at 2:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

#14 Books on the Square

Books on the SquareBooks on the Square
471 Angell St.
Providence, RI 02906




I’m starting to realize how crucial location is to selling books.  Books on the Square in Providence, RI is a perfect example of how location matters.  This store sits across the street from a Coffee Shop, and between a drug store and a popular restaurant in a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood.   It takes nothing to buy a cup of coffee and some toothpaste (that I forgot to pack – I haven’t brushed my teeth in a few days now!) before visiting.

The inside of the store is great – roomy, yet inviting.  This is the only indie in town.   There’s a chain out near the interstate in Providence, but it’s too far out to be convenient to the neighborhood.                 stacks

For nineteen years, Books  on the Square has worked closely with its community.  This is so clearly key to indie bookselling.  They organize summer reading lists for schools.  They have a huge children’s selection and host a story time four times a week.  They have an annual children’s Halloween parade.  They host monthly neighborhood meetings and book clubs for adults.  They also give discounts for students and theater folks from the area.  I notice a large selection of sidelines in this store.  Book lover accoutrements.

A good thing they do at Books on the Square — Any inventory they don’t sell at full price and can’t return they sell for a dollar.  The proceeds are then donated to the nonprofit – REACH OUT AND READ.

Dogs are welcome!


Published in: on May 20, 2009 at 1:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

#13 Bank Square Books

bank squareBank Square Books

53 West Main Street
Mystic, CT 06355
Tel: (860) 536-3795




Three Mystic, CT locals bought this twenty-year-old store three years ago without knowing anything about the book business.  Within six months they realized their new venture would be a labor of love.  Quick studies, they are now spearheading local initiatives in the Mystic business community.

Half way between New York City and Boston, and right off the highway, this store caters to local townies and tourists passing through.  Autumn is busy with leaf-peepers arriving by the busload.  

As a store they have begun working with schools and libraries to host events for fundraisers and their events are growing.P1000719

Those events are becoming such a large part of the store’s plan, that the owners are going to begin Tuesday community education lectures focused on topics of interest for their communities. 

The town will offer bikes for rental and Bank Square has agreed to be one of the drop-off points.  One more reason to stop by the store.




Published in: on May 11, 2009 at 4:00 am  Comments (1)  

#12 Eight Cousins

eight cousinsEight Cousins

189 Main Street
Falmouth, MA 02540
Tel: 508-548-5548




Yankee Magazine recently named this bookstore the Best Children’s Bookstore of New England. But they’re not only a children’s bookstore, you can find adult titles as well.

Carol Chittendon is the owner.  She took over from her mother who opened this store in Falmouth, MA, one of the early communities and a traditional New England hamlet.  That was twenty-three years ago.  

There is a lot of social involvement at Eight Cousins, and one of the best ideas I saw at a bookstore was their very own version of The Giving Tree.  Every year for the last sixteen, this store collects the names of children in need from social organizations in Falmouth and creates a tree for the holiday season.  Customers and their children can then purchase a discounted book for the child and Eight Cousins sends the present along with a note.  Copy of P1000698

According to Carol, business is cyclical and average sales in the summer are ten times that of daily sales in January or February, but that doesn’t mean this bookstore owner is any less busy.  Says Carol, “When you have customers, you’re busy, but when you don’t you’re working twice as hard to get everything ready for them.”

If you visit be sure to pay special notice to the chair in front of the store.  It’s custom-made, and represents each letter of the alphabet.  

Eight Cousins is a pleasant book store to visit and reflects the affable nature of its owner.

Copy of P1000706

Published in: on May 11, 2009 at 3:41 am  Comments (1)  

#11 Mary’s Bookstore

Mary's BookstoreMary’s Bookstore
604 Rte. 6A,
East Sandwich, MA 02537
(508) 833-2986



Two minutes from a Cape Cod shore stands a mid-century ranch that is the home of Mary’s Bookstore.  In the cozy space inside, owner Mary Wagner handsells a great selection of mystery and children’s books.  

While Mary’s Bookstore specializes in mystery books, she also has a growing section in religion. She has a strong costumer base and says a lot of Sandwich business comes from people who visit the town for the day or the weekend and are incredibly loyal customers.  They trust her to make recommendations and so she reads a lot to keep her literary tastes alive. Tourist season is when she has the most business. P1000692 

A book lover first, she also takes the time to show me limited edition children’s books — a pop-up book for the classic WIZARD OF OZ.

Before I leave, she makes me promise to see the Cape. 


Published in: on May 11, 2009 at 3:17 am  Leave a Comment  

#10 Titcomb’s BookShop

titcomb'sTitcomb’s Bookshop
432 Route 6A
East Sandwich, MA 02537
(508) 888-2331




Here is a fun store!  Fun and friendly with the owners actually living on the premises.  Titcomb’s books has been on the north cape for forty years.  It’s run by the daughters of the family, Nancy Ockers and Vicki Uminowicz.  

The store began in 1966 as a mail order business using stock found in a barn the family had purchased sight unseen.  In the late eighties, the two brothers built the store that stands on route 6a.

Being a fixture in East Sandwich Titcomb’s benefits from regular customers and summer tourists.  Vicki sits on the board of Sandwich Reads Together, a nonprofit that promotes literacy in the town, and the store hosts numerous events throughout the year.P1000686


Published in: on May 11, 2009 at 2:05 am  Leave a Comment