Sunday, September 18, 2016

Bunch Of Grapes - Vineyard Haven, MA

Bunch Of Grapes - Vineyard Haven, MA
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I really like the name of this bookstore, Bunch Of Grapes.  But it's a little misleading.  I looked all over the place and didn't see any bunches of grapes anywhere.  What I did see was bunches of books, bunches of cards, bunches of games, and bunches of really cool birdhouses made out of books.  But on the day of my visit, the best name for this place would be Bunches Of Customers!  What a great thing for any indie!

Bunches Of Grapes has been around since 1972 and Dawn B., the current owner and 2nd ownership of the business has been here 8 years.  The store is open year round but for the most part is a seasonal bookstore relying heavily on tourists.  Dawn told me that July and August are the months when they make their money which sustains them through the year when business slows.  It was evident on the day of my visit because the customers were thick.  Dawn also shared with me something that has become very apparent to me on this journey of independent bookstores.  She's never known a business where everyone is so willing to share ideas, a willingness to collaborate and support other bookstore owners and their stores.  Another reason that bookstore people are the best.  

This one-level store is spacious with lots of room to browse without feeling crowded by shelves.  It has a great location on Main St. of Vineyard Haven which is on Martha's Vineyard.  I took the ferry from Hyannis to get here but you can also take a ferry from Falmouth.  The store offers all new books and current events, history, and literary fiction are three of the better selling genres.  There are lots of sidelines including puzzles, games, and greeting cards.  One of my favorites here were the bird houses made out of books.  The store is also known for its events held on-site or with options off-site for larger crowds.  

My experience here was terrific thanks to people like Dawn, Molly, Karen and other staffers.  Just like all my visits, they were the best.  Dawn told me that the foundation for success was set by one of the original co-owners, Ann, and I know that other customers as well as myself are grateful for her contribution and the store's continued success.

So take a vacation and sight-seeing tour to Martha's Vineyard.  Once on the island, hook a ride or grab a rental bike to Vineyard Haven and enjoy a trip to the same bookstore that President Obama visits when he's here.  You'll enjoy the quaintness of the store and the niceness of the people.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Fifth Gospel, Ian Caldwell.  Didn't.  It is compared to some of Dan Brown's books but I just couldn't do it.  It got bogged down in church and vatican history for me.  BUT, as I always say, there are many who absolutely love this one.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Jaguar's Children, John Valliant.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Mayumi And The Sea Of Happiness, Jennifer Tseng.  

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:  My recent New England tour wouldn't have been possible without The Indie Bob Spot team of Cheryl M., Graphic Design and Travel Logistics; and Fran M., Tech Advisory.  They always see things that I miss and I'm always glad when they're on one of the tours.

On your way to Martha's Vineyard you'll have to take a ferry and endure scenery like this.  

Another exterior view of the store.   There is a nice plaza-like area in front of the entrance where you can sit and enjoy the day or the book you just bought.  

Another exterior view and the front entrance.  

Unfortunately, the reflection doesn't allow you to see the display window very well but you can see the nice flowers in front.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Looking to the left from the front entrance.  

Just a few of the greeting cards you'll find.  These are near the front entrance.  

An extensive section of books of local interest.  

I love seeing a long wall of fiction.  

The new year is sneaking up, check out their calendars.  

A portion of the children's section.  

Another view looking toward the children's section.  The kids might want to check out those hand puppets in the foreground.  

More sidelines including puzzles.  

The options for kids here are endless.  

Just a few of the games here.  

You probably won't find extensive maritime sections at midwest bookstores.  

View looking from the back of the store toward the front.  

Find your Kurt Vonnegut candles here.  

A creative way to keep your place in your book and read one-handed.  

A nice staff picks display.  

Bird houses made out of books, one of the most creative sidelines I've seen.  

A relevant notice for all independent bookstores.  

With Dawn B. on the left, the fine owner at Bunch Of Grapes.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Nantucket Bookworks - Nantucket, MA

Nantucket Bookworks - Nantucket, MA
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One small island, two independent bookstores.  What the?  How?  Huh?  Tourists, people, tourists.  Nantucket Island is awash in tourism but most come to visit the stores, the museums, and the history.  Me?  I go for the independent bookstores!  Nantucket Bookworks and Mitchell's Book Corner are sister bookstores, both owned and managed by Wendy H. and collectively fall under the business name of Nantucket Book Partners.  They even share employees with the booksellers sometimes working at either store.  If you're a book or bookstore person visiting Nantucket it is easy to visit both stores (and you should).  The only thing separating the two is a 5 minute walk.

In bookstore years, both indies have been around a long time.  Nantucket Bookworks began in 1972 and moved to its current location in 1981.  Like communities all over the country, when it was time to move to the new location, volunteers came to the rescue and helped move the inventory.  This is the way it is with treasured indies in every commuinity around the country.

Nantucket Bookworks is a one-level store that offers all new books and a terrific variety of sidelines.  Of the two indies on the island, this one has more sidelines to shop for, especially for the kids.  This store also has a little more to offer in its children's section.  Like Mitchell's, you'll find a great section of books related to Nantucket and the Cape Cod area.  I think the two stores compliment each other quite nicely.  Remember, when visiting here you'll be taking a ferry to the island (do not take your car to the island) so plan accordingly.

With renowned author, Elin Hildebrand.  Thanks for a great visit.  
The norm for the people I meet in bookstores is that they're the best.  Just like Mitchell's, the people at Bookworks were a blast to visit with and to meet.  I didn't get to meet Wendy on this trip but I met Dick and Grace who both told me a lot about the store and its history.  I also met Elin Hildebrand, the author who wrote the essay about Nantucket Bookworks for My Bookstore, by Ron Rice.  Regular readers know this is a rarity for me; it only happened once before.  The meeting was extra special since she attended the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop.  How lucky I am to meet people like this along my journey!  And if you're an Elin Hildebrand fan and visit Nantucket, ask at Nantucket Bookworks about her and she just might come in and sign a book.  

While your friends and family are enjoying the seafood, the ice cream, and all those unique shops, make your break.  Sneak away and experience one of the islands' wonderful bookstores.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Murder At The Roosevelt Hotel In Cedar Rapids, Diane Fannon-Langton.  True crime story of a murder at the Roosevelt Hotel in 1948.  Was it revenge?  Accidental?  Self-inflicted?  This is a short, quick read and if you like true crime you'll enjoy this.  Lots of pictures from the local paper included.  And if you live in eastern Iowa, you will especially enjoy this one.  Highly recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Fifth Gospel, Ian Caldwell.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Castaways, Elin Hildebrand.

Another exterior view.  

One of the display windows.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

Lots of sidelines.  

Display of new releases.  

Presidential candidate sidelines.  

Lots of great backpacks and bags.  

A portion of the books of local interest.  

A portion of the children's section.  

Another view of the children's section.  

View from the back of the store looking toward the front entrance.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

Have you read any of these Bookworks bestsellers?

If you want something wrapped, Dick can handle it!

With Grace in the center and Dick on the right.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Mitchell's Book Corner - Nantucket, MA

Mitchell's Book Corner - Nantucket, MA
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I like to consider the entirety of my journey as a grand adventure.  It truly is just that and I feel extremely fortunate to be able to do this.  However, it's possible to think of the visit to this bookstore as an adventure by itself.  You can't drive here.  Your options are to book a VERY expensive flight to this island or take the ferry.  Roundtrip ticket to Nantucket Island on the Hy-Line ferry from Hyannis Port?  $77.  Parking the car before boarding the ferry?  $20.  Visiting Nantucket and Mitchell's Book Corner?  Priceless.

I can travel coast to coast to visit bookstores but once I get to Nantucket Island, I can find two within a 5 minute walk of each other.  Even more astounding is that both of these within such close proximity of each other are featured in My Bookstore, by Ron Rice.  Mitchell's Book Corner has been here since 1968 in its original corner location on Main St.  It is a very short walk from where you disembark from the ferry (Tip: do not take your car to the island.  It's not driver friendly and there's way too much congestion).  When you visit you'll find a compact, 2-level store that offers all new books and just a few sidelines.  I would encourage visitors to check out the books about Nantucket and the Cape Cod area.  I thought this section was excellent.  Clearly, the tourist traffic here is huge, especially during the summer and fall months.  The store does have good local customers as well, including those who make this island their summer home.  The store is active with author signings and events, hosting their in-store events up on the 2nd floor.  And if you visit here in June, you can enjoy the Nantucket Book Festival.

Visting an affluent area like this, I was mildly concerned what the people might be like, if they would be as friendly as all the other bookstore people.  Readers, I assure you that you have nothing to worry about.  The store was so busy on the day of my visit I could barely turned around without bumping into someone.  Despite the great crowd in the store, Bowen and Tim were both fantastic to meet and talk to.  They couldn't have been nicer and I had a wonderful time.  It doesn't matter what part of the country I visit, bookstore people are the best.  

Definitely plan a vacation to Nantucket sometime.  Cobblestone streets, brick sidewalks, lots of history, and quaint shops, inns, and restaurants.  But don't miss a visit to Mitchell's Book Corner, one of the terrific bookstores featured in My Bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Underground In Berlin, Marie Jalowicz Simon.  Author's account of surviving in Berlin as a young Jewish woman who avoids deportation and survives thanks to many who help her during the years of WWII.  Her parents are gone and she is an only child.  Incredible story.  Recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  Murder At The Roosevelt Hotel In Cedar Rapids, Diane Fannon-Langton.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Away Off Shore, Nathaniel Philbrick.  

Another exterior view.  There was a big crowd for an author signing on the day of my visit.  

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  History is big on Nantucket and you can see that theme above the bookshelves.  

A nice book display near the front entrance.  

A great incentive!

Display of recent releases.  

Display of popular newly released paperbacks.  

This bookstore features a book of the month.  

A wall of books in the background and some of the greeting cards available in the foreground.  

Head upstairs but browse the books on your way!

On your way to the second floor room notice another fine book display.  

I saw some of my favorites in this display.  

Another overview of the front half of the main level.  

View from the back of the store looking toward the front entrance.  

A spacious area on the 2nd floor.  

Display of a few of the local interests.  

With Bowen on the left, one of the fine booksellers at Mitchell's Book Corner.  Thanks for a great visit.