Get to Know a Local: Jamie Hope Anderson-Silver of Downtown Books and Duck’s Cottage Coffee & Books

By Molly Harrison | Wednesday, April 10, 2024

All across the Outer Banks are people doing their best to make a living while still finding time to enjoy this wonderful place they call home. In this edition of Get to Know a Local, you’ll meet one of them, Outer Banks bookstore wrangler and professional bookworm Jamie Hope Anderson-Silver.

Owner of Downtown Books in Manteo and Duck’s Cottage Coffee & Books in Duck, Jamie is a passionate book lover and an energetic promoter of books, authors and reading. A lifelong reader, she started working professionally in the book world when her friend Allen LeHew, owner of Duck’s Cottage Coffee & Books, asked her to manage the bookstore part of his business. Duck's Cottage opened on July 22, 2002, and Jamie managed the bookstore side of the operation since that day while owner Allen handled all things coffee.

Jamie opened Downtown Books in Manteo on March 15, 2012, in some of the same rooms that had previously housed Manteo Booksellers, which closed after flooding from Hurricane Irene. In 2022 Allen was ready to retire from Duck's Cottage and gave Jamie the opportunity to buy that business. Both businesses operate under Glass Half Full, LLC.

"I’m so grateful for all of my Glass Half Full teams!" Jamie says. "In Duck I have a fantastic year-round team of about 17 (almost 30 in the summer!), and six of them have been with the Cottage anywhere from eight to 22 years. I wouldn’t have been able to take this leap without them! I have a team of four to five in Manteo who make sure everything runs smoothly at that end of the beach." 

Jamie regularly sets up book signings, talks and author events at both of her stores and at venues around the Outer Banks and always welcomes authors for book signings at Downtown Books during Manteo's First Friday monthly celebrations. She is dedicated to encouraging children and young adults to read and has started an initiative to help bring authors into Dare County Schools (keep reading to learn more). And if you're looking for a book for yourself or for a gift, she and her staff are experts at helping people find the perfect book.

"Event season is gearing up, and we’ve got exciting things planned for Dare Day, a July Garden Party with Kristy Woodson Harvey, an Evening with John Railey and Delia D’Ambra and much, much more," Jamie says.

Her bookstores' joint website — — has all the details of her upcoming summer events. If you're a booklover, be sure to follow her stores on Instagram and Facebook, where Jamie regularly tout new books and local author events.

Photo: Duck's Cottage Coffee & Books has been a favorite spot in Duck village for 22 years.

Keep reading to learn more about Jamie Hope Anderson-Silver, a longtime local and lover of the Outer Banks life.

How long have you lived on the Outer Banks and how did you end up here?

I moved here in 1988 three days after graduating from college. My parents had been bringing us to Nags Head since I was 6, and I’ve always felt grounded here. Also, I’m not very good with directions so the fact that I can always tell east from west from north from south here helps.

How did you get into this line of work?

I was a single mom juggling three jobs. My good friend John Power and his childhood friend Allen LeHew were opening a bookstore/coffee shop in Duck and John asked if I wanted to come help him open a bookstore. Being a lifelong reader, I jumped on board. Duck’s Cottage Coffee & Books opened on July 22, 2002, sold the first book — a Garfield the Cat cartoon treasury — at 7:10 a.m., and the rest is history.

What did you do before you were in this business?

I was teaching water aerobics (which I continued to do for another 10 years), waiting tables at the Good Life several nights a week and working for an advertising specialty company.

What motivates you to work hard in your line of work?

That is a constantly changing, moving target. It used to be just trying to get all the bills paid by the end of the month. Then it was having more events and opportunities for authors and readers to connect. Having people from all over the country tell us we are their “favorite bookstore” always gives me a goal to strive for, too. Now that I have two companies in my quiver, it is ensuring my teams have the best possible workplace with a living wage and as many benefits as I can afford to give them along with opportunities for growth and expression. I am so grateful for the 22+ year-round employees I have between Duck and Manteo, and I just want them to be able to look forward to coming to work every day as much as I do.

Photo: Jamie at a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) event. As a board member of SIBA, she works to help independent booksellers across the South be successful.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

In Manteo it is the same as our mission statement — putting the right book in the right hands at the right time. There’s just no feeling like finding the right book for someone. In Duck it is watching how over 22 years our little spot has become a tradition for so many people. Kids who once came as toddlers to eat muffins on our porch (and feed crumbs to sparrows) now show up to apply for summer jobs! Homeowners whose kids were in high school when they built in Duck now have grandchildren who they bring in year after year. Knowing that morning coffee from the Cottage is part of their Outer Banks routine and something they look forward to all year is very satisfying. In fact, that very first customer — Craig Lee from California who bought the Garfield book — still comes in almost every year!

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Amazon. Which (gets out soap box) should be the answer given by ANY small business in this country.

What books are you currently reading?

I’d go look at my TBR pile, but in my house the piles are everywhere. Here’s what currently has bookmarks: The Life Brief: A Playbook for No Regrets Living by Bonnie Wan is the latest project my friend Jen and I are working through. House of Odysseus by Claire North. I’m attempting The Shadow of Vesuvius: A Life of Pliny by Daisy Dunn for about the third time. Then there’s my latest pasta cookbook, Silver Spoon Pasta by Phaidon (our house has a weekly pasta night). Plus I have about five more advance reading copies in various states of unread, the new Our State magazine … it really is true what they say, so many books, so little time. I just want to read them ALL.

Do you ever re-read books? If so, what are a couple that you have re-read and why?

The Wayward Bus and Pastures of Heaven by John Steinbeck; The Good Terrorist by Doris Lessing; The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I just love good character development, and these three authors are the masters.

What are your reading habits? Where do you like to read and when do you have the time?

Contrary to popular belief, when you own or work in a bookstore you do NOT get to sit around and read all day. If you don’t believe me, ask my staff! I’m in the car a lot going between stores or to Restaurant Depot or to one of two storage units, so at this phase of life, I listen to audiobooks more than I probably read physical books. We have a great partnership for digital audiobooks with that works just like the A-word, and I always have a full library on the app. I listen all the time — when I’m doing chores, mindless computer work, cooking, working in the yard. It’s so easy.  I also LOVE to read at the beach or anywhere outside.

What is your favorite local seafood?

Two-way tie — soft crabs or ocean shrimp caught by Silver Seafood of Wanchese.

What are three of your favorite local restaurants – one each for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Breakfast is Waverider’s Coffee & Deli; lunch is Olives, A Greek Kitchen; dinner is Bluewater Grill & Raw Bar.

What’s your favorite OBX town or village?

Another tie between Duck and Manteo, my two business “homes.” Truth be told, I probably spend more time in both of those places than I do in Kitty Hawk or Wanchese, where I actually lay my head.

Photo: Jamie opened Downtown Books in Manteo in 2012, in some of the same rooms as the town's former bookstore, Manteo Booksellers.

What is your favorite thing about living on the Outer Banks?

Everyone just seems to appreciate a simpler, more grounded life. Even with all the changes over the last 35 years, I feel I can still go to work sporting overalls, drive a 12-year-old car, use seashells and pine cones as home décor and nobody will bat an eye. I don’t know if it’s just that we have less of a rat race here? Or maybe nobody cares about keeping up with the Joneses, whoever they are.

What is your favorite season on the Outer Banks?

Hands down, fall.

What do you do for fun?

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I get to do something I am incredibly passionate about, so work doesn’t always feel like work, which means I need wayyyy more balance in my life (hence The Life Brief, see above). I like taking walks or exercising with friends. I binge-watch bad reality TV (dirty little secret). I used to love kayaking and need to do more of that and paddleboarding too. And I will always grab any chance I have to spend time with the Super 6, our mix of grown kids who are spread near and far.

What do you do in the off-season?

Get ready for the next season … breathe ... and try to get off the beach.

What is your favorite beach access?

Fonck Street.

Describe your perfect day off.

Waking up oceanfront in Nags Head. Relax with coffee and a book on the deck. Head to Skin by Georgia for some pampering then meet up with a friend for a good long walk. Hit the beach for some more reading and vitamin D. Then back to the deck for steamed crabs and shrimp, washed down with bubbles at a table full of family.

Do you see more sunrises or sunsets?

I’m a lark so I have to say sunrises.

What’s one thing you wish more Outer Banks visitors knew?

Every single person in your family/party does NOT need to drive here in a separate car. Oh, and DON’T DIG HOLES ON THE BEACH!

Photo: Jamie and her husband, John Silver, vacationing in Blowing Rock in the NC mountains.

Where do you go on vacation?

NC mountains.

Do you have any side hustles?

Many of my friends in the bookselling world have always joked that my job is running a bookstore and my side hustle is running a bookstore.

Do you have any pet projects or is there a local nonprofit that you’re passionate about?

Glass Half Full donates locally between $4,000 and $7,000 a year to a variety of organizations. I have recently started a new fund at Downtown Books called BAND - Bringing Authors Into Dare Schools. We’ve seen firsthand what an amazing opportunity it is for Dare County students to meet, hear and talk to published authors, and I want to be able to do that more often. Unless it is part of their book tour, most authors don’t show up to do school visits on the Outer Banks for free, so hopefully the BAND fund will get more of them here by helping with things like author fees, travel expenses, honorariums or bulk book purchases.

What’s an item on your bucket list?

Go to Italy once a year. And read all the books.

About the Author Molly Harrison
Molly Harrison is managing editor at OneBoat, publisher of She moved to Nags Head in 1994 and since then has made her living writing articles and creating publications about the people, places and culture of the Outer Banks.