Sag Harbor has seen a swell of new businesses opening their doors just in time for the summer months and aiming to serve the local community year-round. Among these is independent bookstore Sag Harbor Books, which came to Main Street this past Memorial Day weekend. Founder of the new shop and co-owner of Southampton Books, Daniel Hirsch, finds independent bookstores have been on the rise and hopes this expansion offers more people the opportunity to get back to basics and lose themselves in a good book.
Technology’s reign over consumers led to a severe decrease in the success of brick and mortar stores. Few industries were immune with the ease of a few clicks giving people immediate access to what they want. Independent bookstores first took a hit with big box retailers offering thousands of cheaper options. Then with the introduction of e-readers more than a decade ago, even these brands suffered. But recently, there’s been a shift. In 2018, NPR reported an update from the American Booksellers Association announcing more than 2,300 independent bookstores in the United States.
“The initial Amazon effect has passed and now people are taking stock,” Hirsch shares. “Businesses like independent bookstores are on the rise. I think there’s just no substitute for holding a physical book in your hands.”
Hirsch cites “The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter”by David Sax as an interesting read that takes a deeper look into physical items like books and board games and their major resurgence in the face of technology. Nearly five years ago he took the opportunity to continue the tradition of bookstores in the Hamptons when he opened his first shop in the former BookHampton space after previous owner Charlene Spektor retired.
Real estate developers have also found value in these types of locally owned and operated businesses. Manhattan Skyline Management Corp. represented the landlord and bookseller leasing transaction for the 1,650-square-foot space. “The arrival of a new, independent bookstore is welcome news for Sag Harbor’s vibrant Main Street corridor, which already hosts an eclectic mix of stores and restaurants,” said Joshua Roth, Vice President, Retail Leasing for Manhattan Skyline Management Corp., in a press release.
Though the store’s hours are flexible at the moment, the shop is open seven days a week, including 7 a.m. to midnight on weekends. It may seem unusual for a bookstore, but Sag Harbor’s energetic nightlife lends itself well to these hours Hirsch has found. When the village gets its second wind, the store fills with passersby browsing the shelves for new reads. Being next to Grindstone Coffee and Donuts, which gets an early 6 a.m. start, Sag Harbor Books also gets that early morning crowd.
Sag Harbor Books plans to host a number of authors throughout the summer to do readings, meet and greets and book signings. A current event in the works is with Loaves and Fishes and the Bridgehampton Inn owner and chef Sybille van Kempen and her new anniversary book, “Bridgehampton Inn and Restaurant Look + Cook Book.”
Among the newest best-sellers and the large selection of rare and collectible first editions and signed books, both Sag Harbor Books and Southampton Books are also shining a light on one of the most important global issues today through the power of the written word. “We offer free copies of the “Fourth National Climate Assessment”in both stores,” Hirsch shares. “It is such an important issue and we’re trying to do whatever we can to raise awareness.”
Sharing his love of books and encouraging the local community to read anything from classic novels to biographies to reports of pressing issues, Hirsch looks forward to being part of the Sag Harbor community year-round. Learn more about Sag Harbor Books, located at 7 Main Street, at southamptonsagharborbooks.com.