Just in time for the fifth Independent Bookstore Day on April 27, three bookstores in Chatham, one in Harwich Port and two in Orleans have joined the new Cape and Islands Bookstore Trail, the brainchild of Caitlin Doggart-Bernal who, with her mother Joanne Doggart, owns Where the Sidewalk Ends Bookstore and Children’s Annex in Chatham.
“This should be a lot of fun for readers who like to research independent bookstores,” Doggart-Bernal said in an email interview last week. “I’m excited to see where this is leading.”
Twenty-one bookstores across Cape Town, including one on Martha’s Vineyard and two on Nantucket, have joined the trail. Besides Where the Sidewalk Ends, local shops include Yellow Umbrella Books and A Great Yarn in Chatham, Reed Books in Harwich Port, Main Street Books and Booksmith/Musicsmith in Orleans. A trail map will be released on April 27.
“It’s a fun way to engage people and celebrate independent bookstores,” says Eric Linder, owner of Yellow Umbrella Books. “Cape Town has quite an amazing variety.” Yellow Umbrella sells new and used books.
The genesis of the idea was a Doggart-Bernal trip, Sara Hines of Eight Cousins Books in Falmouth and Vicky Titcomb of Titcomb’s Bookshop in Sandwich went on a retreat with other New England bookstore owners last month . The three Cape Town bookstore owners were struck by the enthusiasm generated by the successful Vermont Independent Bookstore Passport project. Participating Vermont bookstores distribute maps of the state of Vermont with the locations of 20 bookstores marked. If readers visit five or more bookstores, they become eligible for prizes. It seemed to Doggart-Bernal, Hines and Titcomb that such a map would be a natural fit for Cape Cod because “it’s a distinct geographic area with a thriving set of unique and charming independent bookstores,” Doggart-Bernal says.
The Cape Cod Trail will operate similarly to the Vermont Trail, with people who visit five stores getting a commemorative “Cape Cod Bookstore Trail” button. During the summer, the rewards program may expand. Additionally, “to connect the digital world of selfies to the physical world of bookstores, we’ve created social media accounts where readers can upload selfies of themselves visiting stores along the trail,” says Doggart-Bernal. .
“It’s a festive way to celebrate the value of independent bookstores in our communities,” she adds. “We chose a trail map because it encompasses a sense of exploration inherent in visiting Cape Cod.”
Visiting multiple independent bookstores makes sense in the same way as visiting multiple antique stores, as each independent bookstore has its own personality, and you’ll find a different selection of books at each.
A Great Yarn at 894 Main St. is a cleverly named store that is partly dedicated to selling “yarns,” as in second-hand books, and partly to selling yarns used for knitting.
“People think the Internet and Kindle have killed independent booksellers, but they’re totally wrong,” says Ron Weishaar, who, with his wife Mary, owns A Great Yarn. “We’ve become more creative about what we sell and how we interact with our customers. Look at Chatham. We have three independent booksellers, each with their own niche, and we’re all doing very well.
Cherry Reid, co-owner of Booksmith/Musicsmith at 136 Cranberry Highway in Orleans, welcomes the Book Store Trail Map for a reason. The bookstore moved four years ago and “people still don’t know where we are,” she says. “People understood at first – we had signs everywhere.” Yet a man just walked in this week and said to Reid, “Oh, I thought you closed.” The store’s new location is in Staples Plaza, next to the Guapo restaurant.
Reed Books at 537 Route 28, Harwich Port is on the Book Store Trail. Reed Books specializes in used books. The store is currently “in hibernation” and will reopen soon this spring. The Brewster Bookstore at 2648 Main St., Brewster, is also on the trail.
The trail should be a benefit to both bookstore owners and readers.
“Many avid readers and book lovers enjoy the charm of browsing and touching real physical books,” says Doggart-Bernal. “They like recommendations from real people, not just algorithms. Stepping into a bookstore is a remarkable experience for the soul, and the Cape Cod Independent Bookstore Trail Map is a way to connect book lovers with bookstores.
Doggart-Bernal hopes readers will discover stores they haven’t yet seen. “So far much has been relied on word of mouth about special gems from bookstores along Cape Cod, and we hope readers will appreciate having a list in one place, for bring “bookstore tourism” to a place with a high concentration of bookstores.
“It opens up a world of possibilities by simply connecting all of Cape Cod’s independent bookstores.”