Full Sails at Front Street Book Shop

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Front Street Book Shop reflects the quiet charm of Scituate Harbor on the Massachusetts coast.

Front Street Book Shop of Scituate Harbor, Massachusetts, is sailing smoothly after a recent change at the helm. Pam Giovannini, who had owned the general bookstore since 1986, retired in June and handed the ropes to Peg Patten, a store employee for more than three years. Previously the store's event, publicity, and website coordinator, Patten was a natural to succeed Giovannini, who had created a strong sense of community and a loyal following at the store.

Two years ago, Front Street Book Shop moved into its current 1,200-square-foot space, a quaint shingled building down the street from the original store site. "Front Street is our main street, as it is in many harbor towns," Patten told BTW. "The store is one block from the dock." The town still has a commercial fishing fleet, she added, and a keen sense of history. Under Giovannini's leadership, the store was an active participation in events such as the town's annual Heritage Days celebration and in celebrations for Banned Books Week.

The perfect place to sit and browse some of the store's featured nonfiction titles.

Of her move from employee to employer at the Front Street shop, Patten told BTW, "I never wanted to own a store," but, she added with a laugh, it was her husband's encouragement that changed her mind. A molecular biologist, he was not prepared to abandon his career, but has contributed to the store's ambiance with his landscaping and gardening skills.

Patten has reinvented herself several times: she spent two decades in broadcast television and then shifted to another successful career developing websites for researchers.

The only full-time member of the staff of seven, Patten has been extremely busy since closing on the deal on June 1. "Since then we have had an event every week," she explained. "I know I scheduled them all, but I didn't realize so many things would happen all at once."

William Martin, author of The Lost Constitution, a June 2007 Book Sense Notable, with store owner Peg Patten

The store has a large Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows release party planned for this Friday night. Patten has ordered more than 300 copies of the book, and the event will feature games, music provided by a deejay, and a snack bar complete with earwax kebabs and severed finger cookies.

According to Patten, the store's BookSense.com website and e-mail communications via Constant Contact have been wonderful ways to reach out to the community and bring people in for events. Shelves dedicated to Book Sense Picks and Book Sense Bestsellers always attract attention.

"I'm building on the very strong foundation that Pam began here," said Patten. "We both see the store as a cultural vehicle to offer new and different things to the town. My changes are small ones -- expanding inventory, increasing author events and our presence on the Internet. Right now, I'm focusing on trying to keep the tiller steady." --Nomi Schwartz

For more on Front Street Book Shop, here's a link to a YouTube interview with Patten and Giovannini that was conducted by their local newspaper, the Patriot Ledger.