Specialty Bookstores: Stories from the Square


Behind the nighttime glow of its glass windows, the Globe Corner Bookstore at 90 Mount Auburn Street awaits curious travelers.

Enter Patrick and Harriet Carrier, the quiet couple who share their passion for travel through guide books and maps. Their dog happily greets customers from time to time as well.

Originally a subsidiary of The Boston Globe, the Globe Corner Bookstore’s first incarnation was in downtown Boston in 1982, Patrick Carrier says. At that time, the quaint shop specialized in books about New England and was a featured stop on the Freedom Trail.

After seizing several opportunities to expand through the years, the Carriers decided to broaden their inventory to general travel books, and by the time they moved to Harvard Square in 1988, the store’s name was coincidentally appropriate.



“I take great delight in people finding interesting and obscure books on our shelf,” Patrick Carrier says. “There’s a tremendous amount of effort that we [put] into it, and it only works if interesting customers come in and find interesting things.”

Harriet Carrier, who spends more of her time with the customers, recalls an 80-year-old man who once came looking for maps of straits in South America to plan for a trip as a member of the working crew of a three-masted sailboat.

“We’re very fortunate to be in an area where so many of our customers have very broad interests and very diverse travel plans,” she says.

And the bookstore aims to engage actively with the traveling community, hiring a staff of experienced travelers and hosting a travel blog as well.

“It’s nice to be a part of people learning about different parts of the world,” Harriet says. “It’s just a small part of increased world understanding.”


The largest foreign language bookstore in the United States in both content and square footage, Schoenhof’s Foreign Books claims eager Harvard language students, eccentric expatriates, cultured intellectuals, and former First Lady Laura Bush among its patrons. With over 454 languages in stock and an enviable lot rented from the Spee Club next door, it’s difficult to imagine that Schoenhof’s is itself an immigrant to Cambridge.

Schoenhof’s Foreign Books first opened in downtown Boston in 1856, when a market-savvy German immigrant recognized a demand for French and German books. The business transferred ownership internally several times within the next 80 years. Poor management and the 1930s financial crisis booted the store out of Boston and forced it to move to its current location on Mount Auburn Street in Cambridge.

A move made out of financial desperation turned out to be a blessing.

“There’s no other place now in this area, in New England—probably in the country—that we’d be able to survive, especially given the challenges independent bookstores face nowadays,” Schoenhof’s General Director Daniel Eastman says.