SCOUT’S HONORED: Porter Square Books

Porter Square BooksPorter Square Books. Photo by Irina M. / IM Creative Photography.

Best Bookstore
25 White St., (617) 491-2220
portersquarebooks.com

Take it from a book lover: Porter Square Books is a special place.

A homey vision greets you as you enter the brightly lit store. On the left is a cafe where you might find people reading their freshly purchased books or the day’s newspaper. Tables sprawl in front of you with the newest titles, and shelves rim the store spanning myriad genres.

But what really sets Porter Square Books apart is the ways in which it goes beyond the role of a traditional bookstore. The shop works hard to engage with its community; The Porter Square Books Foundation, for example, finds authors to speak at Cambridge and Somerville schools, and gives attending students signed books.

“It is hard to describe the joy, wonder, and awe that so many of these children experienced, meeting a ‘real’ author and walking away with their very own copy of that author’s book,” the book store’s website explains.

There’s a place for local writers as well, through the shop’s consignment program. Writers from Cambridge, Somerville, Boston, Belmont, and Arlington can submit their books to the store and receive 60 percent of each book’s price tag once it sells.

Writers also have the chance to participate in the bookstore’s brand new Writers in Residence program. Starting in 2019, two writers will get helpful perks including a staff discount at the store and cafe and use of the office on evenings and weekends.

And the bookstore tries to ensure a good experience for its workers as well. The owners of Porter Square Books made headlines earlier this year when they sold part of their ownership to longtime employees, demonstrating significant trust in their workers and a pledge to make sure they have a stake in the business even when the current owners ultimately retire.

This story originally appeared in the 2018 Scout’s Honored issue of Scout Cambridge, which is available for free at more than 200 locations throughout the city or by subscription.

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