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5 Great Independent Bookstores On Cape Ann

5 Great Independent Bookstores on Cape Ann

Affectionately known as “the other cape” Cape Ann may play second fiddle to Massachusetts’ Cape Cod, but this north shore hideaway is a coastal treasure for those in the know. Comprised of Rockport, Gloucester, Essex and Manchester By The Sea, Cape Ann is home to some of the most beautiful beaches, quaint villages, best art galleries, and restaurants in the state.

But Cape Ann is also home to some fantastic independent bookstores. Visiting local bookstores, in a new town, is a great way to get a feel for the local vibe and these 5 bookshops deliver north shore flavor in spades.

Whether you just need to pick up some beach time brain candy or you want to delve into the depths of Ulysses, Cape Ann has you covered. So, without further ado, here is our list of 5 Great Independent Bookstores on Cape Ann.

Manchester By The Book

The quintessential coastal New England book shop, Manchester By The Book is a bibliophile’s paradise. The meandering labyrinth of books includes everything from Tae Kwon Do, to Turkish rugs, to Updike, Joyce, and Kennedy Toole.

Manchester By The Book Bookstore

A Manchester staple, Manchester By The Book has been purveying “better books” for over 21 years.
Fair warning: our initial field research has indicated that this book shop may potentially be the site of an active time warp. Upon departing, we discovered that we had been transported an entire hour into the future.

If you’re looking for some rare finds, coffee table books, leather bound books, first editions, or signed copies, Manchester By The Book is happy to oblige. You can view their inventory of over 20,000 used books online on sites like Biblio. Click To View Inventory.

Manchester By The Book - Cape Ann

The prices are very reasonable and the store is always building its collection and will purchase your used books for cash or store credit.  Once you’ve made your selection, we’d recommend cruising right up the street to Singing Beach to delve into your new find.

Manchester By The Book
27 Union Street
Manchester-By-The-Sea, MA 01944


Dogtown Books

An iconic Gloucester bookstore, Dogtown books recently changed ownership in 2018. New owners, Lucas Cotterman and Caroline Harvey took over the shop when longtime owner Bob Ritchie retired, and the couple have breathed new life into the operation.

Dogtown Bookstore Gloucester MA

Whether you are looking for a classic first edition, local history, your grandmother’s cookbook, or existential musings from either Kierkegaard or Nietzsche, Dogtown has you covered.
Their books are reasonably priced and gloriously organized in a manner that allows you to stumble upon books that you didn’t even realize you needed.

The new ownership is also dedicated to becoming a cultural hub for the Gloucester community. They host a variety of artistic acts including music, poetry, storytellers, authors and others.

Lucas Cotterman Dogtown Books Gloucester MA

According to Lucas and Caroline, “Community is everything, and we want to be active participants in honoring Gloucester’s legacy and shaping Gloucester’s growing culture.”

Dogtown Books
132 Main Street
Gloucester, MA 01930


Bookstore of Gloucester

The Bookstore of Gloucester has been putting books in the hands of Cape Anners for over 40 years. The store was first opened back on April 1, 1975.

The Bookstore of Gloucester MA

While shops like Dogtown Books and Manchester By The Book have large catalogs of used treasures, The Bookstore of Gloucester is Cape Anne’s go to bookshop for new books.

The Bookstore is owned and operated by the welcoming Arwen Severance who recently acquired the store in May, from her mother-in-law Janice, after 17 years of on the job training. A family affair, you will find Arwen and daughter Tegan, when on break from school, behind the register helping manage the store.

Bookstores on Cape Ann

While browsing the vast selection of varied titles from local and world-renowned authors, it was refreshing to hear locals calling in to order books, rather than clicking onto Amazon.

The store also features a sizeable children and young adult section to help encourage reading among Cape Ann’s next generation.

The Bookstore of Gloucester
61 Main Street
Gloucester, MA 01930


Art Longwood Books

Just down the road from the Addison Choate, at 33 Broadway, you will find the humble and quirky Art Longwood Books. The independent bookstore is run by Jeffrey Postel and his partner Sadie and offers used and rare books on subjects including art, architecture, photography, design and others.

Art Longwood Books Rockport MA

The cozy confines of Art Longwood are welcoming and seem to underscore the breadth of books and knowledge that is still to be explored.

Postel has been selling books for over 20 years and has been operating Art Longwood Books in it’s current location for over 7 years. He is focused on providing high quality books for customers and is happy to purchase used books from those ready to part with them.

Rockport MA Bookstore

The bookstore is open year round, they have a thriving online business, and they are happy to ship to all nations. You can view their online inventory here

Art Longwood Books
33 Broadway #3
Rockport, MA 01966


Second Glance 

According to Merriam Webster, a bookstore is: “a place of business where books are the main item offered for sale.” Ok this shop may not technically qualify as a bookstore, but we still think it’s worth sharing with any bookworms visiting or living on Cape Ann.

Second Glance Thrift Store Gloucester MA

Second Glance is a thrift store right on the border of Gloucester and Rockport. It has everything from clothing, to silverware, to furniture and yes, of course, books.

There is a section in the main store that has a sizable selection of books, cd’s and dvds and they are very reasonably priced (read: wicked cheap). The books start at under $1.00 and top out at a few dollars.

Bookstores on Cape Ann MA

In addition to getting an incredible bargain, you can feel good about shopping at Second Glance because all of the proceeds from your purchase go toward hunger relief efforts through The Open Door. You can learn more about their mission here by clicking here

Who knows, if you’re lucky, you may even be able to snag a comfy chair to read your new books in!

Second Glance
2 Pond Road #1
Gloucester, MA 01930

So that’s our list of 5 Great Independent Bookstores on Cape Ann. While there are a few other great bookstores on the north shore these are our favorites. In a growingly homogeneous and digital retail space, the neighborhood bookstore remains a pillar of individuality, creativity and community. We hope that you enjoy exploring the meandering stacks and volumes of unique works and meeting the proprietors of these local businesses.

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