Unicorn Books - Trappe, Maryland
Eastern Shore Reviews

#2 Unicorn Books – 30,000 Used and Rare Books

Unicorn Books in Trappe, Maryland

Part of the 100 Things to Do Between the Bridge and the Beach series



Unicorn Books - Trappe, Maryland
Unicorn Books, Ocean Hwy (westbound), Trappe, MD – Talbot County


For 30 years, Unicorn Books has been located on the west bound side of Route 50 between Easton and Cambridge.  Who would guess that there are over 30,000 used and rare books inside this humble one-story building?  The brick building fades into the background of the Eastern Shore landscape, and would probably go unnoticed by drivers and passengers whizzing down the highway were it not for the 1960s-looking sign topped with a white unicorn advertising OLD BOOKS.

Every beach-goer knows this sign. Small as it is, it stands out.  My children remember it as a way marker on our beach-bound drives. That unicorn sign came right before Cambridge, and Cambridge marked our one stop along the way (at the Wawa).

My husband, an avid reader and book lover, told me that though he’s driven past Unicorn Books a thousand times, he’s never been inside. “I’ve been driving by it for thirty years and I always mean to stop, but I’m always on the way to somewhere or in a hurry to get home.”

I told him, “You should stop, but leave at least 30 minutes because you’ll have to drag yourself out of there.”

If ever there was a place worth stopping, it’s Unicorn books.  There’s something for everybody there.  I go there for books on Maryland history – particularly the Eastern Shore. Their Maryland history section is the largest I’ve ever seen in a used bookstore.  They’ve got books on travel, agriculture, writing, world history, Civil War, gardening, hunting, fishing, genealogy, poetry, photography, cookbooks, birds, cats, coins, and books on trains and railroads.  Every hobby and craft is represented by some type of book.

And don’t get me started on the paperbacks.  Geez.


Beach Read – Save Yourself the Cash

Unicorn Books has a nice fiction section. There are many hardcovers and classics, but just past the front section is a hallway lined floor to ceiling with paperbacks. For the voracious consumer of fiction, it’s an delicious little hallway.  There must be thousands of paperbacks – all $1.00.  Why stop at the drug store and pay $7 for something to read on the beach when you can stop at Unicorn and get seven books for $7?


Maps, Clock and Classics

In addition to the tens of thousands of used books, Unicorn Books owner James Dawson has a large collection of old maps and some reproductions that are for sale.  I love maps – love maps – love maps.  And they’re everywhere.  Even in the bathroom.  There’s even a separate map room on the second floor in an annex.

Antique clocks are also scattered around the store, but are not for sale.  They add a certain flare to the Unicorn Books experience.  The store is typically silent – like a library – except for the ticking of the old clocks.

Mr. Dawson keeps the nicer books, book sets, first editions and collector books in a separate section he refers to as The Better Book Room.  For the book lover, this is almost like a museum.  A double treat is to get Mr. Dawson to come into the Better Book Room and talk about some of the items he showcases.  Almost all of the items in the store are for sale – except the clocks.


Video on Unicorn Books

Charlie Paparella of WBOC-TV covered Unicorn Books in 2010.  This video clip shows the inside of the store, the owner, James Dawson and offers a closer at what the store offers the community.


For those traveling to the beach, Unicorn Books is a place worth stopping. Even if you’re not driving to the beach and your like my husband – just driving – pull in and say hello. Take a look. Pick up a book or two. It’s time well spent.

Unicorn Bookshop
3935 Ocean Gateway
P.O. Box 154
Trappe, MD. 21673-0154
Talbot County – 38.6587723856152, -76.0548734664917
phone: (410) 476-3838
Hours: 7 days a week, 9am to 5pm


100 Things to Do Between the Bridge and the Beach

Every year millions of people cross a bridge to travel to the Atlantic Beaches on Delmarva. It may be the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel or a bridge over the Delaware Canal. They may be headed to Ocean City, Chincoteague, Rehoboth, Bethany, Dewey or Assateague, but most don’t know about the fabulous sites and attractions they are passing by. This series offers 100 fun things you can do between the Bridge and the Beach encouraging visitors to pull off the highway, take a day trip, and widen your vacation scope of activities – or make the Eastern Shore a destination when you’re not headed for the beach.





  1. Ralph Deneumoustier

    I discovered Unicorn Books in the late 1980’s. While I live in Delaware, I try to make at least one trip every year to visit this bookstore.

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