After two years of business in Amagansett Square, BoBookHampton may have closed its Amagansett location, but its Sag Harbor store, pictured here with manager Sarah Doherty and Barry Lisee, is still going strong.okHampton owner Charline Spektor this week announced the independent bookstore would close the location, citing economics and “the surprising lack of foot-traffic in Amagansett.”
“East Hampton is a thriving store and they were too close together,” Spektor said on Tuesday. She added in addition to the East Hampton branch of BookHampton, both the Sag Harbor and Southampton locations continue to operate successfully.
BookHampton at Amagansett Square was originally conceived as a store to focus on children, keeping in character with Amagansett’s family-centric community, although the location maintained a collection of other genres of literature as well as DVDs, merchandise and CDs. Spektor said on Tuesday all three remaining BookHampton locations, in particular Sag Harbor, continue to operate with full children’s sections.
While Spektor dismissed the current impact of electronic publishing on independent bookstores, she acknowledged online retailers like Amazon have affected the industry. Big-box, bargain book retailers like Barnes and Noble have yet to find a home on the East End, despite attempts to open a Bridgehampton location in recent years.
But rather than focus on those challenges, Spektor chooses to shine a light on the benefits of independent bookstores, which are often tailored specifically to serve the communities and Main Streets they inhabit.
“The value of an independent bookstore is that you can see in our stores that we are making literary choices based on the community,” she said. BookHampton is able to reach beyond the standard chain-store inventory, with a collection that boasts literary classics, popular fiction and non-fiction titles as well as lesser known authors.
Having a dedicated staff of booksellers who “are really well read, well rounded and all live in the community,” makes carrying out such a high level of knowledge and service possible, and also helps prop up the local economy, Spektor added.
“An important part of this is that independent book stores that are neighborhood bookstores, on the commerce side, the dollars earned stay in the community,” she said. “It doesn’t leave town.”
Spektor, who owns BookHampton with her husband Jeremy Nussbaum, said the store has also developed programming aimed at engaging the community in literary and intellectual pursuits. Its four-month, free winter lecture series, which kicked off in January at the East Hampton branch, brings an array of educators into the community to discuss topics ranging from “The Rise and Fall of the Aztec Empire,” to climate change, poetry and the economics of education – a lecture given last week by Dr. Pedro Noguera. This Saturday, at 5 p.m., the store will host Stony Brook University Professor Stephanie Wade, who will take a look at writers who have explored the human condition in a lecture titled “True Stories: Finding Freedom at the Crossroads of Cultural and Persona Myths.”
BookHampton also hosts book and reading groups at all locations, including an ongoing Rowdy Readers Book Group, held at Rowdy Hall in East Hampton on Tuesday afternoons through March 16 and a reading group at the Southampton store on Wednesday afternoons through May 12. In Sag Harbor, manager Sarah Doherty hosts a Saturday reading group, which will discuss John Banville’s “The Infinities” on March 14 and Robert Goolrick’s “The Reliable Wife” on March 21. For the younger set, the Sag Harbor branch also holds story time for children ages two to five years old on Monday and Friday mornings at 10:30 a.m.
“And then, of course, we have our annual Mystery and Mayhem weekend in May,” said Spektor. “We bring in 30 terrific mystery writers, both established and some emerging, who fill our communities with mysteries and enigma.”
That event will take place May 14 through May 16.
“We are a very active part of all three neighborhoods,” said Spektor.
As for future BookHampton locations in the wake of the Amagansett store’s closing, Spektor said she remains optimistic.
“You have to be permanently optimistic, intrepidly optimistic as an independent bookstore,” she said. “We are committed to the communities we live in and committed to making great recommendations for our customers. Reading is the future for all of our children and when people see that, they appreciate the value of keeping independent book stores in our communities.”
BookHampton is located at 41 Main Street in East Hampton (324-4939); 91 Main Street in Southampton (283-0270) and at 20 Main Street in Sag Harbor (725-8425).