New bookstores mean new book festival for Belfast

By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff
Posted July 19, 2011, at 7:56 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — Nanette Gionfriddo has a lot of books for sale in her downtown shop Beyond the Sea, but when she learned this spring she would have more competition as two other bookstores opened close by, she wasn’t worried.

Instead, with a total of six bookstores in Belfast, Gionfriddo started daydreaming about creating a Maine version of London’s Charing Cross Road, a mecca for both book sellers and book lovers.

“Rather than putting each other out of business, it becomes a destination,” she said Tuesday.

Gionfriddo rattled off a list of local bookstores that includes the Old Professor’s Bookshop on Main Street, Mr. Paperback at the Reny’s Plaza, the Booklover’s Attic on Route 1 on Belfast’s east side and the brand-new Artisan Books & Bindery and Bella Books, both located on High Street.

In order to get others as excited as she is about the bibliophile possibilities in Belfast, she has helped to plan the city’s first festival geared entirely toward books: Belfast Bound.

The festival, to be held Friday, July 29, through Sunday, July 31, will feature book signings, author readings, tastings from cookbooks, questions and answers with experts on topics from climate change to the Civil War, and more.

Organizers hope it will become an annual event and have started advertising regionally, even putting an advertisement in the Boston Globe. But Gionfriddo has something else on her mind.

“My primary goal is to have it be a big success this year,” she said. “To have the streets lined.”

Dorothy Havey, the director of Our Town Belfast, said that the event has been growing as other shops and organizations have gotten involved.

Officials from the Belfast Historical Society and Museum have located the very first book to be bound in Belfast. The 1827 tome, called “The History of Belfast with an Introduction to Acadia,” will be on display during the festival at the Belfast Free Library.

“It’s very cool,” Havey said.

Among the 32 authors scheduled to read are Van Reid, author of the Moosepath League series; Lynn Plourde, author of “Moose, of Course”; and Sandra Oliver, author of “Good Maine Food.”

There also will be readings happening outside at five of the benches that have been placed in town as part of this summer’s Eco-motion art project, Havey said.

At least a dozen locations throughout town will feature events.

“When we threw it out to the community, it was amazing, how many different aspects responded,” she said.

Kim Cashman, co-owner of Bella Books, said that she and Gary Guida decided to move their business north from Virginia in part because she wanted to return home to Maine, but also because they both enjoy Belfast.

Bella Books, which Guida described as a fun place that sells new and used books and antiques, opened June 8.

“We have met the most wonderful, most interesting people here,” Cashman said. “We’re just having a great time.”

For more information about Belfast Bound, visit www.belfastboundbookfestival.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/07/19/news/midcoast/new-bookstores-mean-new-book-festival-for-belfast/ printed on July 29, 2014