What’s new at Bunch of Grapes, Martha’s Vineyard’s bookstore

The Vineyard Books and Now in Paperback areas are two of the bookstore's most popular sections. — Photo by Katryn Yerdon

Who doesn’t love the cracking sound of a new book binding the first time you open it? Or how about the excitement of turning the page to find out what happens next?

For some, this is still the way to read a book, while others have turned to e-readers, whether it is on their Kindle or Nook, or using Apple’s app for the iPad or iPhone. Herein lies the challenge for our local bookstore, less people buying hardcover, more people turning to the Internet.

Our Island’s last bookstore, Bunch of Grapes on Main Street in Vineyard Haven, is a unique, two-floor collection of books, gifts, journals, children’s games, reference books, and more. Thankfully, back in July 2008, we did not permanently lose this Island gem to the fire that broke out next door. While it caused a lot of damage, it re-opened in its original spot in June of 2009. The re-opening was due to the intervention of then store employee Dawn Braasch, who bought the business from the original owners, the Nelsons, and brought the business back to life.

Ms. Braasch re-opened the store with its original feeling of comfort and warmth, but opened up the spaces to be more inviting and user friendly. She broadened the space for the very popular section of staff picks, so you may relax while perusing their suggestions to find the one that fits your mood.

“We do a great business in Vineyard books,” said Ms. Braasch when asked what the store’s most popular sections are. “Books by Vineyard authors, books about the Vineyard. I think the bookstore has always been known for their great selection of Vineyard books that you just don’t find anywhere else, especially with the loss of Edgartown Books and Riley’s Reads. We also do a great business in new and hardcover fiction and non-fiction. We are known for our depth and breadth of selection, which I give all the credit to our book buyer here, Dailis Merrill. He really keeps his finger on the pulse of what people are looking for on the Island and it isn’t always the New York Times bestseller list as we have a very well-read, very literary clientele.”

Not only does Bunch of Grapes sell books in genres from non-fiction to how-to, but they also host many monthly events, like a book club. Next month’s book discussion on “The Winter of Our Disconnect” by Susan Maushart, is on Wednesday, April 4, at 4 pm on the second floor of the store. This type of discussion happens on the first Wednesday of each month.

There is also a knitting group that meets on Mondays, a screenwriters’ workshop on Tuesdays, and Bunch of Grapes is always happy to host any book clubs or other groups: just call for more information. If you would like to participate in the April 4 discussion group, but haven’t read the book yet, there are still copies available at the bookstore.

A challenge that Bunch o Grapes is facing, like many other bookstores, is the move toward e-books. Ms. Braasch shares the impact it has already taken on her iconic store, “E-market has impacted us tremendously. It’s been a very difficult year for us, really very difficult two years. E-books took off in a way that really no one in the book industry could have imagined. People read e-books in a large part on vacation and we are a vacation destination, a tourist-based economy, so it has affected our business tremendously.”

Bunch of Grapes has also moved right along with the times and has developed a comprehensive website, bunchofgrapes.com, that allows readers to buy their books, along with their personal recommendations, from anywhere in the world.

For more information, stop by for a visit or call 508-693-2291, or visit them on the web. When shopping in person, make sure to get one of their Book Club Cards in which you receive a 25-percent discount after purchasing 10 paperback books or 5 hardcover books. They also offer a 20-percent discount off hardcover books to Our Island Club card holders.