RadioBDC Logo
| Listen Live
< Back to front page Text size +

Mini Cooper bookmobile turns a new page in Nantucket

Posted by Bill Griffith  April 14, 2011 11:35 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article


(All photos: Click photo for larger version.

Wendy Hudson, owner of Nantucket Bookworks, drives away in the autographed "Penguin orange" Mini Cooper she's using to promote her store.

Take the ferry to Nantucket and it is only two-and-a-half blocks — as the penguin waddles — from the terminal up Broad street to Nantucket Bookworks.

It's an independent bookshop that has been there for 39 years — kind of an island version of the movie "You've Got Mail." Besides being a great place for your summer reading needs and books on Nantucket, it's home to a signature vehicle, a one-of-a-kind Mini Cooper autographed by famous authors.

A year ago, to celebrate its 75th year in publishing, Penguin Books created an "Anniversary-Mobile" — a 2010 Penguin-orange Mini-Cooper with black Penguin logos on the door and hood. The car toured the country, piling up 16,000 miles and promoting literacy, The Nature Conservancy, and Penguin authors along the way.

At various book parties, 18 authors signed the dashboard, including Pulitzer Prize winners William Kennedy and Geraldine Brooks and New York Times bestsellers Michael Pollan, Sue Monk Kidd, Jan Karon, and Rosanne Cash.

The Mini's travels generated a story in the book industry publication Shelf Awareness. Wendy Hudson, owner of Bookworks, saw the article and was intrigued by the Mini's provenance. After the tour, Penguin planned to sell the car with the proceeds benefiting the New York Public Library, and Hudson found the ad on back in December and, after much hesitation, bought it in March.

"We knew she really wanted the Mini," said Bookworks staffer Suzanne Keller, "but she was like, 'Should I or shouldn't I?' We were all excited when she did."

"One hasn't lived until they are driving down I-110 in the Penguin-mobile," Laura Dave, author of "The Divorce Party," told Shelf Awareness. "The best was that we were in terrible traffic, and people in the cars around us all looked miserable. Then they would turn and see the orange Mini Cooper and smile."

At each of the stops on its tour, a set of the 75 most iconic titles from Penguin Books was donated to either a local library or literacy group. Another set came with the car. Hudson plans to sell them with the proceeds going to benefit the Nantucket Athenaeum.

Penguin Books was launched on July 30, 1935 with the then-revolutionary idea of making quality paperback books available at railway stations, newsstands, and bookstores. Within 10 months, a million books had been printed; within a year, three million were sold.

"We're thrilled to be continuing what Penguin launched — promoting authors and books in such a dynamite way," says Hudson. "It will be great fun to keep adding autographs as the years roll on."

Island author and National Book Award winner Nathaniel Philbrick signed the Mini in New York and again in Nantucket with a "New York City to Nantucket" inscription.


Click photo for larger version.

Eighteen authors have signed the Mini's dashboard, including Pulitzer Prize winners William Kennedy and Geraldine Brooks.

"The Mini came with some silver Sharpies," says Hudson, "and we intend to put them to good use. One of my goals is to figure out how we can put more signatures on the Mini's black roof in the future."

Hudson loves driving the car and the attention it gets for its one-of-a-kind color scheme, not to mention suggestions for future autographs. "One worker on The Steamship Authority (island ferry) said we needed to get Dennis Lehane's autograph. I'm sure we can arrange that."

Hudson hasn't finalized the Mini's future look, but she plans are to re-brand it as the Bookworks-A-GoGo-Mobile with a subtitle of "Books by land, sea & cloud" to promote the Google eBooks that independent booksellers market on their websites.

"My vision is to have a lot of book images in a border around the body," she says. "I know it will turn a lot of heads and remind people that little bookstores are places that have a lot of fun and a lot of character."

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article


About Boston Overdrive reports the latest trends, auto shows and wrings out the newest cars in our city's hellish maze — and across the great roads of New England.
Follow Cars on Facebook



Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
In the garage: Mazda 5, Dodge Neon
George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
In the garage: Lifted 1999 Jeep Cherokee
archives racing coverage

Dale Earnhardt Jr. shocked by Juan Montoya's departure from No. 42
By Michael Vega, Globe Staff LOUDON, N.H. --- Dale Earnhardt Jr., like most of his NASCAR brethren, was surprised to learn Tuesday that Juan Pablo...

More on Cars