In keeping with the review I did two weeks ago of James McMullan’s Leaving China, and my interview with him last week, today we’re calling in on three bookstores that I know Jim is familiar with. Although none of these bookstores offers the kind of online ordering one finds at the large online booksellers, each will fill emailed orders, and will give you individual assistance by email or phone to find just the right book. Independents offer so much that huge online retailers cannot.
The first one, Canio’s in Sag Harbor, hosted an evening in May featuring Jim reading from his newly published Leaving China, as well as displaying some of the original watercolors. Oh, how I would have loved to have been there! Kate McMullan, Jim’s wife, has also launched several of her books at Canio’s.
The store, in an old house on Main Street (but away from downtown Sag Harbor), is a delightfully eclectic mix of used and new books, with old wooden floors, nooks and crannies, bookshelves piled with exciting finds, and postcard racks with black and white cards featuring scenes of old Sag Harbor or photos of various artists and writers who have lived there, including John Steinbeck and his poodle Charley*. It’s the sort of place that has atmosphere and personality aplenty — and books all over the place.
* If you haven’t read Travels with Charley, do. That link will lead you to a review in The Atlantic Monthly first published in 1962. Steinbeck set out on his journey from his home in Sag Harbor.
The first time I visited Sag Harbor, there was another bookstore, at the other end of Main Street, nearly to Long Wharf, called BookHampton. Unfortunately, that store has closed, but there are still three BookHampton stores, in East Hampton, Southampton, and Mattituck. As it says on their website,
“BookHampton continues a tradition of great book recommendations and personal service. BookSellers are always available to help you find exactly what you are looking for and fulfill your book and CD needs. Whether in the store or by email when you speak to a BookHampton BookSeller you have our full attention. What we do isn’t about an algorithm determined by your previous internet searches. What we do is based on getting to know you.” That is one of the joys of an independent bookstore.
And now let’s head down the Long Island Expressway to New York City, shall we? Or maybe jump on the Hampton Jitney instead. We’re on our way to
The Corner Bookstore, which is in the Carnegie Hill neighborhood of Manhattan. In April they hosted a reading featuring Jim McMullan and his newly published Leaving China. So again, this is a store with McMullan connections. Not only do they care for their adult customers well, ensuring that they stock “the best of the best” in their words, the care and attention they give children is exemplary. Here’s some of what they say about their children’s section:
“In addition to devoting a large portion of the store to children’s books, we offer special store charge accounts for children, which they love. (Being able to say, “Please put this on my account” makes them feel very grownup.) We also invite neighborhood children to review publishers’ advance copies of novels for ages 8 to 13. Their reviews are published in the fall and spring issues of The Corner Bookstore’s Kids Newsletter, by Kids, for Kids. Over 50 children participate in this popular project.” Although I haven’t visited The Corner Bookstore, it is certainly on my Bookstore Bucket List!
The Corner Bookstore has a website but no Facebook page.
To see where any of these stores are located, just check out my Bookstore Map page. If you’re in New York City, or in the Hamptons, call in at one of these bookstores. I know you’ll find something to pique your interest. And wherever you are, I hope you’ll support independent bookstores whenever possible!