Ten years ago, Downtown Books opened in Manteo at 105 Sir Walter Raleigh Street, one block from the historic waterfront. Many people remember the location as the site of Manteo Booksellers, a long time downtown fixture that in 2011 succumbed to the devastating storm surge of Hurricane Irene. The book buyer for Duck's Cottage, Jamie Anderson, saw an opportunity in its loss and despite the risks decided to return a local, independent bookstore to Roanoke Island. While every precaution has been taken to be storm ready in Manteo, and books have been 'moved up' in preparation for several storms, the bookstore lies in the lowest part of the Downtown area and has indeed experienced a number of floods from a few inches in Matthew (2016) to a full two feet in October '18 when Tropical Storm Michael rolled through. Jamie is bound and determined to stick with her location and with the Manteo community despite these soggy setbacks. Jamie's attitude is always 'glass half full,' and she often jokes that the store should be named 'Highwater Books'. In the last three years Downtown Books has been been named Town of Manteo's Small Business of the Year, was the Coastland Time's Coastland Gold winner in the bookstore category. Jamie was featured in a Women Warrior's of the Outer Banks exhibit at the Dare County Arts Council and Downtown Books has won Best of the Beach: Bookstore in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.
Manteo has a bit more space for a lot more books- all still chosen specifically by Jamie. Genres include fiction and non-fiction, children's and young adult, graphic novels, cookbooks and an expansive collection of Outer Banks titles- from history to memoirs to photograph books to locally set fiction. We also carry shelves of used fiction- perfect for beach reading! Downtown Books is becoming known for our wonderful collection of greeting cards- a beautiful, entertaining mix of cards for every occassion- even shark week! Select gifts include our popular Fly Paper literary candles (including scents like Sexy Librarian and Book Club), signature Downtown Books mugs and tees, bookmarks, journals and our exclusive hand-carved North Carolina trees.
Downtown Books' goal is to put the right book in the right hands at the right time. We strive to help make our community a better place and are dedicated to being a strong supporter of Dare County Schools. We offer authors the opportunity to engage with readers and readers the opportunity to interact with writers. We do not judge, discriminate or practice intolerance toward any reader or their preferred reading material.
We host many authors for events that range from small signings at the store to ticketed readings at local wine bars, lectures at the Dare County Arts Council and more. We have hosted NYT best-sellers Mary Kay Andrews, Kristy Woodson Harvey, Lisa Wingate, Audrey Penn, Radney Foster, Vivian Howard, Andrew Lawler, S.A. Cosby and scores of local and regional authors. There's always something on the schedule- from First Fridays (April - December), to Independent Bookstore Day (last Saturday in April), Dare Day (first Saturday in June), Small Business Saturday, Where's Waldo.. you never know what you'll find coming up, so be sure to check the event calendar regularly and follow us on social media! Partnerships with other organizations like the Dare County Arts Council, the Bryan Cultural Series, UNC Press, and the Nature Conservancy also allow us to bring good things to the Outer Banks and make things happen.
In 2020, just as the pandemic was shutting down the world, Downtown Books relocated two doors down to 103 Sir Walter Raleigh Street. A smaller space meant lower overhead and maybe an opportunity to survive. Not only did we, but we are actually 'bigger' than ever with more inventory than before. Same great books, same great staff, but a more intimate and beautiful setting. From the East, take the 158 Bypass to Whalebone Junction and bear right following the signs for Manteo/Roanoke Island. After the Washington Baum Bridge (the BIG one), go to the second traffic light (a four way intersection) and turn right. Go approximately 1.3 miles to the second stoplight and turn right onto Sir Walter Raleigh Street. In two and half blocks, we will be on the left at 103 Sir Walter Raleigh just past Ortega'z Restaurant . From the West, follow 64/264 across the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge onto the island. At the first stoplight- Midway intersection- turn left and follow the directions above.
In both locations, we strive to provide patrons with the best service around. We are here to help make your vacation experience on the Outer Banks and in Duck and Manteo the best it can possibly be. Thank you for shopping with us here online and for supporting two independent bookstores!