Provincetown Bookshop

At 92 years old, the beloved Provincetown Bookshop is Cape Cod’s oldest bookstore. The shop is a well-curated general interest bookstore with something for everyone, particularly local authors and LGBTQ+ stories. The new owners are excited to continue the shop’s legacy and add their community-driven personal touch.

In 1932, Paul Smith opened the Provincetown Bookshop at a different location on Commercial Street (now Karilon Gallery), according to David W. Dunlap’s Building Provincetown. The shop specialized in local authors and allowed customers to buy or rent books for 5 cents a day.

In 1940, Smith moved the shop to another Commercial Street location, commonly referred to as the Port-Hole Building, where it remained until 2021. Despite its small size, the shop was designed to allow visitors to get lost in the stacks.

In 1963, Joel Newman, a professor of music at Columbia University, and his partner Elloyd Hanson purchased the bookshop. They also published ensemble music under the Provincetown Bookshop name.

Filmmaker and writer John Waters, who worked at the bookshop, credits much of his education in the 60s and 70s to Hanson’s reading suggestions. “I didn’t go to college, but I went to the Provincetown Bookshop,” Waters famously said.

From 1970-2021, Newman’s family and a small, dedicated staff (Deb, Clayton, Jane, Jeannette, and Nan) ran the shop after his death, calling it “a labor of love.”

In 2021, the shop was put up for sale and purchased by Barbara Clarke and her daughters, Isabella and Catherine, who grew up loving the quirky shop as another member of the family.  They moved the shop to it’s beautiful new home at 229 Commercial Street.

In 2024, the Provincetown Bookshop celebrates its 92nd year. Stop in and help this legendary bookstore continue to write its story on Provincetown’s heart.

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