In the fictional bookstore in The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, the author offers readers a glimpse into what it must be like to operate that endangered species, an independent, neighborhood bookstore. If you ever watched the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romantic comedy, You’ve Got Mail, then you’re familiar with the feeling of rooting for the small business owner, the bookstore owner whose heart and soul is tied to the community and the authors she serves.
Bookselling, like most industries, is a complicated business, and I’m grateful for the many booksellers, large and small, that operate across the country. I’ve always been a supporter of my neighborhood bookstores, though, and as a constant reader who buys more books than I can read in a lifetime, I encourage everyone to support them. There’s something charming about the way each small bookseller arranges the world inside his door. Instead of working from a corporate merchandising plan, the lighting, shelves, books and comfortable chairs are one of a kind.
Nantucket Book Partners, which operates both Mitchell’s Book Corner and Nantucket Bookworks, provides islanders and visitors with just that kind of experience . Both locations offer an enticing view into a wide-ranging inventory of books and boundless ideas for what to read next. As is fitting for an island bookstore, they have a wonderful selection of books about Nantucket, whaling and the island’s genealogy. And best of all, they are a true community resource, with book signings for local authors, advertised on their blog through “What’s on the BOOKS?,” a dedication to providing the best in customer service, a blog feature called “Meet a Nantucket Book Worm,” to let us look over our neighbor’s shoulder to see what she’s reading, and even offer space for a weekly Memoir Writing Group in the store.
As the faded sign on the porch of the Victorian cottage that is home to the fictional Island books says, “No man is an island; every book is a world.” A bookstore is a world, too, and we’re lucky to have two to call our own.