Bookstore in Only Bermuda City Changes Hands

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For over 400 years, shipwrecks have landed hapless voyagers on the shores, or in the waters, of Bermuda. Now thousands come eagerly on titanic cruise ships to enjoy the sand, surf, and shops of the balmy island. As the boats reach port in Hamilton, Bermuda's capital and only city, those looking out can see the sign for The Bermuda Book Store awaiting them on the corner of Front and Queen streets. "It has to be the best location for any bookstore on any island in the world," said the store's new manager and part owner, Hannah Willmott. "We're in the main shopping area, nobody can miss us."

The building has probably housed retail businesses for over 200 years, Willmott told BTW, and a bookstore has been in that spot since the 1920s. Willmott and her partners recently purchased the 850-square-foot store and began operating it on July 15.

The transition from the previous family to the current owners was "smooth, as these things go," Willmott said, adding, however, that "the inventory was very low since the past owners had done little purchasing in the past six months."

A general bookstore with a specialty in Bermuda books, the Bermuda Book Store will expand its children's section and will maintain a wide range of books suitable for beach reading. Since many of the island's early settlers were bound for the Virginia colonies, visitors come from the East Coast of the U.S. to research family history, and genealogy books are in demand.

As a Book Sense participant, Willmott expects to get valuable input that will help build inventory for tourists and locals alike. Trained in hospitality management with varied business experience, Willmott prepared for her bookselling career by attending BookExpo America 2002 in New York City and taking the Fundamentals of Bookselling program. "It was very useful," she told BTW, "the course really brought everything together."