Every month, our series Shelf Life will profile a business in Greater Boston that’s part of the region's thriving independent bookstore community. This month we are featuring the new East End Books in the Seaport. 

East End Books, a mainstay in Provincetown, is gearing up to open its newest Seaport location next to the Institute of Contemporary Art. With construction coming along, the store plans to open by Halloween and serve as a cultural hub by the waterfront.

Behind the bookstore is Jeff Peters, who runs two store locations in Provincetown. He has plans to make the store a destination in Boston — with special author events, drag story hours, collaborations with local restaurants and fundraisers for nonprofits.

Peters, who is well connected in the art world, has been in talks with guests like Diane von Furstenberg, Bob Mackie, Jane Seymour and John Waters to potentially come to the store for events in the next year.

“We want it to be a gathering place, we want you to be able to have your book club here,” Peters said.

The store has been operating as a pop-up in Pier 4 since December — so Peters says a lot of the books for the store are already in stock, ready to hit the shelves.

“Our style is different than a lot of other stores,” he said. “We have very eclectic taste, which has resonated with people in Provincetown.”

This is a photograph of Jeff Peters who is opening up a new bookstore. In this photograph he is stnading in the bookstore wich is under construction. The room is full of empty bookcases. Jeff Peters is wearing a strpied t-shirt, shorts and a blue baseball cap with an anchor embroidered on the front. He is smiling.
Jeff Peters of East End Books is almost open for business, September 16, 2023
Haley Lerner GBH News

The store will stock bestsellers, but also up-and-coming indie novels, along with a strong focus on authors from the greater Boston area. Sticking to its roots from Provincetown, the store will have a “very strong queer selection and a strong feminist emphasis and a social justice emphasis.”

But his vision goes well beyond books. He also wants to stock the store with a selection of vinyl records, get a wine and beer license and have a special tapas-like menu of savory pastries and bites, provided by the store’s neighbor and Peters’ close friend, Kristin Canty, owner of Woods Hill Pier 4.

He hopes to expand the reach of East End Books to the surrounding developments in the Seaport. When Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a luxury movie theater chain, finishes construction on its new Seaport location, Peters anticipates hosting tie-in movie-book events at the space.

Craig Kennedy, a fellow bookseller and longtime collaborator with Peters who is helping get East End Books opened, said he is excited to see the vision for the Seaport store come to life.

“Jeff has a knack for allying himself with artistic partnerships in Provincetown,” Kennedy said. “He's going to use that skill to launch an incredible amount of cool events. And that's always been my favorite part of running a bookstore, is bringing in amazing authors and getting a crowd of like minded people.”

This is a photograph of East End Books, which will open at the end of the month. In this image there are stacks of books that have been unpacked. In the foreground are a cluster of boxes. To the left of them is a sign that says  "East End Books Seaport, open now!"
A behind-the-scenes look at East End Books' inventory
Haley Lerner GBH News

East End Books isn’t the only bookstore that has expanded to the seaport — Somerville’s Porter Square Books opened up its location in the Seaport in 2021 in GrubStreet’s writing center. Peters is excited the independent bookstore landscape is growing in the up and coming area.

“I'm excited about being here because for me, you can never have too many bookstores,” he said. “There's four in Provincetown. I make a beeline for bookstores with every city I go in. So I love the fact that here between us and GrubStreet Porter Square, Mass Poetry, the ICA that we've created a cultural center here.”

Programming at the Boston location has already been in full swing since the pop-up began. While construction is being completed, the Pier 4 management has let Peters use an event space in the building to host book events, including one with actress Jenny Slate. Upcoming book conversations include Kelle Groom on her latest book “How to Live: A Memoir-in-Essays” and American singer-songwriter Cid Bullens on “TransElectric: My Life as a Cosmic Rock Star.”

The store has had an eager response to its planned opening — in a campaign open until the end of September on Patronicity, the store has already hit its $20,000 donation goal that unlocked a matching grant from the Massachusetts Development Corporation.

Peters said the reception he’s seen in the Seaport has already been positive — “people are really thrilled.” He said the location feels like a perfect match to the original in Provincetown, as both overlook a view of the water.

“Even though it's taken longer than we had thought to open, the wonderful welcome that we've gotten has really made my heart,” he said. “It’s not easy to open a business in Boston. We've been working hard to get this open and we work hard in Provincetown, and I'm just very excited for once we do get to open.”