best Cape Islands bookstores

There’s nothing like the feel of a book in your hands—the smell of the pages, especially if it’s an old classic.

Knowing the toll that big box stores—and later technology—would take on independent book stores, Tom Phillips and his wife Joyce decided they would have to find a niche when they opened their first book shop on Cape Cod in 1992. Focusing on used and collectible publications, they opened Well Read Book in Sandwich. It proved the ideal venue for those looking to buy and sell used books as well as for local authors who chose to self-publish and needed a place to sell their reads. They soon opened a second niche shop in Yarmouth called Books By The Sea, focusing on all things Cape Cod and nautical. “When customers stopped in to buy a book,” Phillips says, “it was like they were taking a little bit of the Cape home with them.”

They opened a second Books By The Sea in Osterville, and eventually all three book shops were consolidated into that shop. “Osterville was such a good community to us. When my wife Joyce died, they dedicated a section of the library to her.” But after 13 years, Phillips says he needed a spot that offered more year-round traffic, so he decided to move the store to the Bell Tower Mall in Centerville. In addition to a wide selection of reads for all ages, the store also features a gallery of local art.

Eric Linder, owner of Yellow Umbrella Books in Chatham, has been running his successful and award-winning independent book shop since 1980. The store offers an extensive selection of new and classic titles, as well as a carefully curated collection of used, out-of-print and hard-to-find books. “In regard to the multitude of Cape Cod titles, whether a book is brand new or long out of print, we make every effort to keep those titles on our shelves,” Linder says.

The bookstore, open year-round, also hosts many authors of local and national acclaim at book signings. On Saturday, July 21, bestselling author William Martin will sign copies of his new book, “Bound for Gold.”

Sometimes an independent book shop’s success comes in the form of its location—such is the case with Edgartown Books on Martha’s Vineyard. Located in the heart of Edgartown in what was once an old Captain’s House that dates back to the 1860s, this bookstore has something for everyone—from kids to adults.

With two full floors of books, reading areas, and a hand-painted staircase, owner Joyce Sudikoff says customers enjoy browsing the book selection as much as they do the historical building itself. She says because there are so few independent stores left, people have a special appreciation for a book shop. “People are so happy to find a bookstore here,” she says.

There are some great books out this summer, and she is predicting anything written by Philip Roth will be a popular read, as well as “Leonardo da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson.