Island E-Books

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

I was fortunate enough to be on Martha’s Vineyard last week and decided to stop into a couple local bookshops and poke around to see what the e-book scene on the island was like. After all, what better place to go bookstore hopping in search of e-books than a beach-reading haven?

My first stop was Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in the stoic former-whaling town of Vineyard Haven. A dry town now (meaning, nowhere to buy alcohol), browsing and buying books is one of the most intoxicating things you can do there.

Bunch of Grapes is currently in the Google Books affiliate program, which is set to end in January, a clerk told me. I have reached out to Dawn Braasch, the owner, to see what the store plans to do then (she has not yet gotten back to me and if/when she does, I will update this post). Perhaps nothing since nothing much happens on the Island in January, when the population drops to under 20,000 from a summertime high of over 100,000.

Related: Zola Aims to Replace Google Books, Then Take on Amazon

My next stop was Edgartown Books, a store that almost closed this Spring when its owners, David and Ann LeBreton, put it up for sale. A white knight arrived in the shape of a former part owner of the Los Angeles Kings hockey team, Jeffrey Sudikoff.

Unlike Bunch of Grapes, the store does not currently sell e-books through the Google Books affiliate program but hopes to offer e-books in some way to customers in the next six months, the store’s manager Susan Mercier told me through an email.

“At this point we are in a ‘wait and see’ pattern to see the direction that the ABA [American Booksellers Association] is going to take with e-books,” she wrote. The ABA is the conduit through which bookstores access the Google Books program.

While it currently doesn’t stock e-book titles on digital shelves, what Edgartown Books does have is a renovated interior and exterior (see picture of cool bookish staircase below) and a seasoned manager in Mercier, who was reinstated in her position when Sudikoff took over after having left the bookstore in March 2010. My guess is that she’ll figure out a way to get into selling e-books sooner rather than later.

If not, digitally savvy and local-bookstore-conscious Edgartown readers will have to make the 15-minute trek up to Vineyard Haven to get their next beach read.

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