Newtonville Books is sold

In today's "Lizard Watch," the weekly email blast from Newtonville Books, Tim Huggins, owner and founder of the independent bookstore, and literary man-about-town, announced that he'd sold the place to Mary Cotton, a former employee of the store.

"It's just the right time," Huggins writes. "I felt that the bookstore had arrived at a place where it needed something more and different than I could provide to help it reach the next level of sustainability." The email is below, with Huggins's announcement, a few words from Cotton, and a press release.

A word from Tim Huggins, founder of Newtonville Books:

I hope this finds you well. I am proud to say that Newtonville Books was sold yesterday to Mary Cotton, a former employee of the bookstore and a dear friend.

Let me say that it has been an honor serving all of you. I am incredibly proud of the bookstore and her accomplishments over the past eight years.

What was accomplished was due in a large part to your support. The bookstore’s future accomplishments will also be due to your ongoing and inspired support. I am counting on all of you to embrace Mary and her staff (you’ll recognize all of them!). With your support, Newtonville Books will continue to enrich your lives and contribute to the literary community of Newton, greater Boston and beyond.

I will be around for a few weeks, so I hope you will make a trip by the bookstore to shake hands with me, meet the new owners and simply offer your best wishes for all of us. You can continue to keep in touch with me by email at Look forward to seeing you around in the coming weeks.

A word from Mary Cotton, new owner of Newtonville Books:

I’m thrilled to be writing you as the new owner of such an amazing independent bookstore. When I moved to Boston in 2002, one of the first places I discovered was Newtonville Books, and it has remained an integral part of my life ever since. I still remember walking through the door for the first time and feeling the warm pull of the store’s personality inviting me to call Newtonville home. Many of my first friends in Boston were people I met at Books and Brews readingswriters and readers and people of all walks who cared about literature.

Shortly thereafter, Tim hired me to work at the store and I was immediately drawn into the vibrant community of patrons who frequent the store. One of my favorite parts of work was talking to customers about what books they had recently read and loved (or hated!). And as often as I would suggest something to a customer, they would suggest something to me, an exchange that I still think of as uniquely Newtonvillian. I look forward to continuing that dialogue with all who want to participate.

I’m also looking forward to getting to know you more in the coming weeks and months and years ahead. Please feel free to say hello in person or from wherever you happen to be. Below is a little press release about my taking the torch from Tim, an honor I’m both excited and humbled to accept.


Newtonville Books, an independent bookstore established in 1998, has been sold to Mary Cotton. Ms. Cotton, a Williams graduate who holds a degree from the Stonecoast low-residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine, and who will graduate with an MA in English Literature from Boston University this year, is also a former employee of the bookstore, hired by Newtonville founder, Tim Huggins.

"When I heard the bookstore was closing after the first of the year, my heart sank, not just for myself, but for the Newton community. An independent bookstore is such a vital component of a community like Newton, and this bookstore, in particular, is such an amazing place. Over the years, Tim has built a well-respected cultural institution in service of the community, and when I realized that the creativity and intellectualism that flowed through the store was about to be staunched for good, I wanted to do something about it. It seems like every day you hear about another great independent bookstore closing. I wanted people to hear about one staying open," Ms. Cotton said. "Plus, I met my husband while working at the store."

Ms. Cotton is married to Jaime Clarke, a writer and founding editor of Post Road, a national literary magazine based out of Boston, for which Ms.

Cotton also serves as Publisher and Managing Editor. "Newtonville Books has served as the headquarters for Post Road since the magazine’s inception, so the bookstore and the literary magazine will be a perfect union. And I definitely plan to integrate the magazine as much as possible. I want the bookstore to continue to be a home to readers and writers alike."

When asked about selling his bookstore, Huggins replies: "It’s just the right time. I felt that the bookstore had arrived at a place where it needed something more and different than I could provide to help it reach the next level of sustainability. This sale is a rare situation where needs and opportunities matched perfectly. I find great comfort in knowing that Mary has the right passion, energy, abilities and commitment. The bookstore, as well as its local patrons and greater bookselling community, is incredibly fortunate to have her here. I call on patrons and supporters to embrace her with the same passion shown for me and with an even higher level of commitment and support."

Huggins opened Newtonville Books in 1998, and he is the founder of the award-winning author event series Books & Brews, as well as the cofounder of Earfull and Cover2Cover, two wildly successful events that combined author readings and live rock music hosted in a bar setting. For the past several years, Newtonville Books hosted over 100 authors a year, including such authors as Margaret Atwood, Tom Perrotta, Dennis Lehane, George Saunders, Myla Goldberg, Rick Moody, Jodi Picoult, Anita Diamant, James Salter, Alice Hoffman, Paul Auster among others. In 2004, PEN/New England bestowed to Huggins the honor of the "Friend to Writers" award.

All small businesses experience inner struggles but few capture the energy, creativity and experience the successes like Newtonville Books.

Huggins says: "Even during times of hardship, the bookstore thrived through its staff, publisher and author support and its patrons. It is a successful bookstore in many ways that bring me great pride. This sale was the only way to save the bookstore from a grave hardship and put it in a more viable place again. Mary brings new opportunities and new life to something I feel is a very special part of the bookselling community."

Ms. Cotton’s revitalization plan extends well beyond Post Road, though. A customer loyalty program, discounts on select titles, bookclubs, writing workshops, and maybe even a film series of movies based on books is on the horizon for the new Newtonville Books. You can also ask for a fake plastic nickel instead of a bag when you check out, dropping the plastic nickel in on of three donation boxes that support local Newton charities on your way out the door. "Outwardly the store may look the same, but there are a lot of exciting changes afoot," Ms. Cotton said.

Newtonville Books will close on Monday, February 5 and reopen on Thurs, February 8 for a four-day twenty (20%) percent off sale ending Sunday.

Newtonville Books will also host a grand re-opening reception on Sunday, March 4, from 3-5pm.

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