Canio’s Books Turns 35, Pledges to Stay in Sag Harbor

The building that houses Canio's Books is on the market, but the bookstore is pledging that it is here to stay.
The building that houses Canio’s Books is on the market, but the bookstore is pledging that it is here to stay.

The building that houses the literati landmark Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor was listed for $2.9 million earlier this month with Douglas Elliman Real Estate, but Canio’s owners Maryanne Calandrille and Kathryn Szoka pledged this week that the bookstore is in Sag Harbor to stay.

The bookstore’s owners, who rent the 886-square-foot storefront in a building that also houses three apartments, plan to celebrate their 35th anniversary with a revival of the village’s marathon reading of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, in addition to a full schedule of writing and photography workshops, author events, art exhibits and children’s story hours.

“Canio’s is committed to staying in Sag Harbor, preferably at 290 Main,” said co-owner Kathryn Szoka in a press release Friday. “We’re hopeful that a new creative solution will further secure our place in Sag Harbor after this transition. Meanwhile, we are focused on our 35th anniversary celebration plans, including the revival of the Moby-Dick Marathon.”

“We’re surrounded by change, yet we will endure,” added co-owner Maryann Calendrille, referring to the building boom taking place throughout Sag Harbor.

The Moby-Dick Marathon will be held between June 12 and 14 at locations around the community, beginning and ending at the bookshop. The store’s founder, Canio Pavone, started this tradition in the late 1980s, when round-the-clock readings took place over Labor Day weekend and audience members came and went at all hours, some of them in pajamas.

The marathon was often a part of the HarberFest celebration of Sag Harbor’s whaling history.

“It’s the perfect time to bring back the much-loved marathon,” said Kathryn Szoka. “Everybody loves it! It’s part of our history and the village’s history. So, we thought, let’s do it!”

The bookstore is also launching new workshops this winter, including “Writing About Nature” with poet/farmer Scott Chaskey beginning Feb. 19; “A Winter’s Meditation,” a photography workshop with Kathryn Szoka; and “The Art of Slow Writing” with Louise De Salvo in April.

On Jan. 31, Canio’s Cultural Cafe will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of Thomas Merton’s birth. At 4 p.m., community members are invited to read a favorite excerpt from Merton’s work, creating a Merton “mosaic” — a diverse representation of the vast ways in which Merton’s work has touched our lives.

A current list of events is available at


Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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