Independent Bookstores in Maine
Maine’s literary scene is deeply historic and continually expanding, with famed writers and poets flourishing and finding inspiration from Maine for hundreds of years. Whether murder mystery novels set in quintessential coastal towns, or landmark literature that continues to reach audiences for generations, Maine has served as a haven and muse for many writers.
Today, that literary scene has resulted in a strong appreciation for books and writers, and as a result — independent bookstores. Discover the unique and eclectic bookstores in Maine that span small towns and cities throughout the state.
Up The Coast: Small-Town Bookstores in Maine
There’s just something about Maine’s coast that simply demands a good read (or three) in your back pocket. Perhaps because the charming streets, shops or those boat-bobbing harbors call to mind the setting of a storybook itself. The next time you visit one of Maine’s charming coastal towns, tuck into one of these spots.
Starting in York, check out The Booktenders — what looks like a little charming cottage is a treasure trove of modern and classic fiction, children’s books, local authors and more. About half an hour away in Kennebunkport, Fine Print Booksellers is conveniently located at Port Walk in Dock Square, with current bestsellers and local authors alike.
Moving up the coast into Brunswick, Gulf of Maine Books, founded in the ‘70s, describes itself as an independent alternative bookstore, featuring poetry, local and regional writing, and much more. In Bath, you’ll find a variety of bookstores including The Corner Bookshop (primarily used with some new books), Mockingbird Bookshop (new books, with generous nooks and crannies for reading), and The Open Door (rare and out-of-print books).
Head to Rockland and peruse Arctic Tern Books’ carefully curated selection, or stop into hello hello books for both new and used books, in addition to eclectic merchandise. In nearby Camden, The Owl & Turtle Bookshop & Café takes cozy to a new level with books (best sellers and indie picks) paired with local coffees, teas and baked goods. Belfast is distinctive in its book offerings, with sunny romance novel shop Grump & Sunshine, dog-friendly Left Bank Books and Old Professor’s Bookshop that makes you feel like yes, you are perusing a wise old professor’s esteemed collection.
Up in Searsport, you’ll find a sweet town bookstore – Anodyne Book Shop — that offers both new and used books. In Bucksport, peruse Bookstacks’ thousands of new book titles and stay for the coffee and free Wi-Fi. Castine’s Compass Rose Bookstore specializes in maritime history and has a café for the perfect place to soak in your new coastal read.
Blue Hill Books’ precious white clapboard cottage houses a year-round selection of books, magazines and stationery in Blue Hill. In the beloved coastal town of Bar Harbor, long-running Sherman’s offers a wide variety of adult and children’s books, in addition to gifts and little treasures to take home (Sherman’s also has locations in Damariscotta, Boothbay Harbor, Freeport, Rockland, Topsham, Windham, Falmouth and Portland).
Inland: Small Town & Village Bookstores in Maine
As you move away from Maine’s beautiful coastal communities and head inland, you’ll be surprised and delighted by the wealth of independent bookstores in charming towns that neighbor rolling mountains, meandering rivers and picturesque lakes. Ready for your new read? We thought so.
In Gorham, stop into The Bookworm — they know their books (primarily new, with some used) — they’ve been in business for over 30 years! Tucked into the sweet mountain town of Bridgton is Bridgton Books. In Oxford, The Maine Bookhouse offers a large selection of books including book treasures for the avid collector. Norway’s Tribune Books and Gifts is the perfect stop for birthdays and holidays with new books, toys, magazines and more. In Belgrade, pop into Oliver & Friends, a bookstore that has “something for everyone” — and is pretty as a picture, too.
The Peoples Book Shop in Mount Vernon may appear like a small little house, but those in-the-know or lucky enough to discover it will find it packed with an impressive collection of books across all genres. In Farmington, visit Devaney, Doak & Garrett Booksellers, which has a special place in its community, having been recognized nationally for its ability to foster a love of reading. Aptly named Twice Sold Tales is a giant collection of used books, with a café and food to refuel during your reading adventures.
On Aroostook County’s northern edge is Fort Kent, where tiny-but-mighty Bogan Books is a must-visit, offering books for all ages and knowledgeable, friendly staff members.
In & Around the City: Urban Bookstores in Maine
Maine’s cities are an abundance of award-winning food, great shopping, cultural experiences and also… quality indie bookstores. Discover the unique flair that each store offers its community, and you.
South of Portland, Biddeford’s Elements is a must-visit — if not for its quality books, then the local craft beer, live music and specialty coffee. In Portland, a flurry of local bookstores await. The Green Hand, with its wide range of used books that specializes in “weird” fiction, Letterpress Books, which gets new books in on the daily and has some used books, the fiercely independent Longfellow Books, Print: A Bookstore in Portland’s East End and the beautifully laid-out BackCove Books in Woodford’s Corner. Not far from the city of Portland, Royal River Books in Yarmouth offers a plethora of new books, in addition to fun curiosities.
In Central Maine, kids will find a bookstore devoted just to them at Waterville’s Children’s Book Cellar. DownEast, Ellsworth’s Big Chicken Coop Books & Antiques is a must-visit for bibliophiles, with over 150,000 books and a whole room devoted to Maine books. In the city of Bangor, The Briar Patch offers books from birth through high school, and is also a great resource for parents and teachers. Meanwhile, Stephen King lovers can flock to Gerald Winters and Son for an impressive collection of King books and items. Pro Libris’ meticulously arranged used book collection will keep you in there for at least a few hours.