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On the Road with "Bookstore Tourism"
by Larry Portzline

How many times have you gone to another town in New England, walked into
an independent bookstore that you've never visited before, and were
overwhelmed by how tremendously cool and unique it was?

Book lovers who travel with any frequency are quite familiar with that feeling --
the rush of adrenaline as they scan the new-release table, the thrill of finding a
first edition they've been looking for, the luxury of reading a chapter or two in a
cozy, out-of-the-way corner.

In fact, many bibliophiles make a habit of seeking out local bookshops wherever
they go, whether they're on an overnight business trip or a two-week jaunt
across Europe.

The growing
"Bookstore Tourism" concept taps into this thirst for literary
adventure.  It's a new grassroots travel niche that encourages book lovers to plan
day-trips and other literary outings to cities and towns with fun and interesting
bookshops that people in their own communities may not otherwise have an
opportunity to visit.

The benefits of Bookstore Tourism are enormous:

•        It raises the profile of independent bookstores;
•        It provides outreach opportunities for reading groups, schools, libraries,
and other organizations;
•        And just as important, it promotes reading and literacy.

Imagine how much enjoyment your group or organization would get out of
planning a "bookstore road trip."  It doesn't matter if it's five people in a minivan
or 50 people on a chartered bus -- with a little research and planning, you too
can ride the Bookstore Tourism wave!

5 Easy Ways to Get on Board with Bookstore Tourism

Bookstore Tourism is a grassroots travel niche that encourages book lovers to
plan group-trips to cities and towns with interesting, fun and unique
independent bookshops.

Sound enjoyable?  Here are five easy ways to get involved:

1.        Organize a "bookstore road trip" with friends: Talk to the book addicts in
your life and plan an excursion to the bookshops in another city.  Find out which
stores are there and come up with a game plan to hit them all.  It may take a little
research, but discovering new bookshops is worth it!

2.        Plan a trip with an organization: Bookstore Tourism is a perfect activity
for reading groups, schools, libraries, non-profits, etc.  Depending on your
group's size, you can load everyone into a couple of minivans or hire a tour bus
for the day.  You can make it a members-only event or open it up to the

3.        Combine your trip with other literary attractions: Many towns with great
bookstores also offer tours of famous authors' homes.  Others are renowned as
the settings of well-known books.  Be sure to include these sites in your travels.

4.        Partner with your local booksellers: Ask how you can work with them to
create Bookstore Tourism events.  Consider organizing a "Bookstore Exchange
Trip" with bibliophiles from another town to attract them to your local

5.        Start a "Bookstore Adventure Club": Encourage your group to make
Bookstore Tourism a monthly or even bi-weekly activity!

Bookstore Recommendations for Your Travels

New England's bookstores are some of the most renowned in the country.  
Listed below are just a few in northern New England that you may want to
include in your literary travels.  

For additional bookshops in the region, or to find one near you, visit the website
of the
New England Booksellers Association and click on one of the "Find Local
Stores" links at the top left.


Brunswick Bookland
8 Gurnet Road
Brunswick, ME
(207) 725-2313

One of Maine's largest independent bookstores, Brunswick Bookland offers new
and used books, local and regional titles, audiobook rentals, a large magazine
selection, toys and games, greeting cards, gift wrap, posters and a café.  
Brunswick Bookland.

Maine Coast Book Shop
158 Main Street
Damariscotta, ME
(207) 563-3207

Nestled among a wide variety of small shops on historic Main Street in
Damariscotta, Maine Coast Book Shop is known for its excellent inventory and
helpful staff.  It also features one of the best collections of Maine titles
anywhere.  Browse the large selection of magazines and enjoy an espresso in the
Maine Coast Book Shop.

The Owl and Turtle Bookshop
32 Washington Street
Camden, ME
(207) 236-4769

The Owl and Turtle Bookshop is a small bookstore with an excellent selection of
new titles and a particularly good Maine collection.  It also features a marine-
themed room and a children's section.  A scenic coastal town with plenty of
inviting shops, Camden's literary claim to fame was serving as "Peyton Place" in
the film version of the famous novel.  
The Owl and Turtle Bookshop.

New Hampshire

The Country Bookseller
23A N. Main Street
Durgin Stables
Wolfeboro, NH
(603) 569-6030

This quaint, small-town bookstore carries an eclectic, big-town selection,
specializing in fiction, children's books and regional titles.  With its cozy café,
pine shelving and hardwood floors, it's a must-see in the charming town of
Wolfeboro.    [No Website]

RiverRun Bookstore
7 Commercial Alley
Portsmouth, NH
(603) 431-2100

This community-minded bookstore is so crammed full of books it's a browser's
heaven.  It has a strong focus in literary fiction, poetry, history and local-interest
titles.  It's very laid back, so bring your kids and your dog if you want.  Be sure
to check out open-mic night to hear some good poetry or an author reading.  
RiverRun Bookstore.

White Birch Books
2568 S. Main Street
North Conway, NH
(603) 356-3200

A real book lover's store, just a few steps away from the train station.  It offers an
excellent selection of literary fiction, kids' books, local history, outdoor guides,
topographical maps and lots more.  Local authors often drop by for book
signings, and reading groups in the area consider it a second home.  
White Birch

Editor's Note: You may also want to visit The Toadstool Bookshops in Keene,
Milford and Peterborough, NH.
The Toadstool Bookshops.


The Galaxy Bookshop
7 Mill Street
Hardwick, VT
(802) 472-5533

If you're looking for a great selection of books, including Vermont writers, the
Galaxy Bookshop is for you.  Author events and book-signings are a regular
feature.  These folks also stick up for the First Amendment in a big way, so be
sure to stop in and offer your support.  
The Galaxy Bookshop.

Northshire Bookstore
4869 Main Street
Manchester Center, VT
(802) 362-2200

Famous for its wide variety of new and used books, and renowned in the book
industry for its activism on behalf of local business, Northshire Bookstore was
named "Bookseller of the Year" by Publishers Weekly in 2006.  Located in a
restored historic inn, it's the largest independent bookstore in Vermont.  
Northshire Bookstore.

Norwich Bookstore
291 Main Street
Norwich, VT
(802) 649-1114

This comfortable, friendly shop boasts thoughtfully chosen books for the whole
family.  Its knowledgeable staff can find just what you're looking for or make the
perfect recommendation.  The store's community-mindedness shines through
with its holiday season "Book Angels" program, coordinated with local agencies,
which allows customers to donate books to needy kids.  [No Website]

About the author Larry Portzline is the creator of the national Bookstore Tourism
movement and the author of "Bookstore Tourism: The Book Addict's Guide to Planning &
Promoting Bookstore Road Trips for Bibliophiles & Other Bookshop Junkies."   Visit
Bookstore Tourism.
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
Bookstore Tourism.  Click here for more travel information...
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