Espionage, historical fiction, murder mysteries, science fiction, poetry, books for young children, teens and young adults — all were at the Books In Boothbay event at Boothbay Railway Village Museum on Sept. 11.
Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library started the event in 2004, originally calling it “Books in Bloom” and holding it at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Five years later, it was moved to the museum and renamed Books in Boothbay.
Forty Maine authors attended Maine’s largest summer book fair, presented in two sessions, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. The Village’s Town Hall set up was designed to make authors and book lovers feel as comfortable as possible in these COVID times. Three rows of tables were spaced at least six feet apart with two authors at each, except for a table for four in front of the stage area. Masks were required. Some authors dropped their masks for a quick photo and back on they went.
Said BHML Director Joanna Breen, “Many of the authors were appreciative about how it was set up — the space between the tables, air flow, and the masks requirement. They said the committee did a really great job organizing an event at a time like this.”
Sherman’s co-owner Jeff Curtis was on hand again at the purchasing table where sales were steady. Although a total wasn’t available at press time, Breen said sales were definitely higher than in 2019. She estimated 200 people showed up, some going to both sessions.
Author Hilary Bartlett, signing copies of her book, “The Thistle Inn – A Wee Bit of Scotland in Boothbay Harbor,” said, “The people who have been coming are serious book readers and they are here to buy.”
Many people bought multiple books, some as many as 16. Boothbay resident Pam Kush has a knee replacement coming up and wanted to be sure she had enough to read. Dedicated to reading and learning, Kush tutors at Midcoast Literacy and often donates books to it.
“I wanted to see Barbara Ross first. We talked for a bit. She’s a very entertaining woman and I continue to enjoy her work,” Kush said. “And some of the poetry is gorgeous – Clare Ackroyd, Sarah Carlson and Jason Grundstrom-Whitney, and Bette Stevens’ haiku.” Other authors in her very large paper bag included Bartlett, BJ Magnani, Lara Tupper and Gerry Hawes.
“It was a real celebratory event, as we were getting back into the circuit of things. We feel it was definitely a success,” said Breen. “I heard one couple came from upstate New York for the event and came to both sessions. They stayed here for the weekend. The committee spent more on advertising this year, so that was very good to hear!”
Mine Oyster and Boat House Bistro made lunches for the authors. Brisetto’s Second Cup and Eventide Specialties donated gift certificates for author goodie bags; and Coastal Maine Popcorn added bags of popcorn. Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce added a bottle of water and navy gift bag.
Books In Boothbay sponsors were BHML, Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shops, Boothbay Railway Village Museum, First National Wealth Management, Mine Oyster and Boat House Bistro.
Other authors this year were Kerri Arsenault, Danielle Bannister, Richard Cass, Matt Cost, Irene M. Drago, Fran Hodgkins, Peter Ilgenfritz, Mary Lawrence, S. Lee Manning, Anne Britting Oleson, Maria Padian, T. Blen Parker, Kevin St. Jarre, Caitlin Wahrer, Cheryl Blaydon, Ellen Booraem, William Chanler, Charlene D’Avanzo, Jean Flahive, Kate Flora, Cheryl Gillespie, Tom Huntington, Len Mattano, Dave Patterson, Dale T. Phillips, Lynne Schmidt, Wendy Ulmer and Thomas Urquhart.
If you couldn’t make it, Sherman’s has the books by all of these authors.