FREEPORT — Joanne Lewis of Boothbay entered L.L. Bean on Saturday with a single task in mind: buy some wool socks for her daughter.

But when she passed a display of the book “Well Out to Sea,” about life on Matinicus Island, Lewis said she had to stop for a closer look before scooping up a copy for signing by its author, Eva Murray.

“My daughter-in-law has family there and she is hard to buy for,” she said.

Lewis was among a throng of shoppers at L.L. Bean taking advantage of the round-the-clock retailer’s two-day Holiday Book Festival. More than 30 New England authors, many with ties to Maine, are signing copies. The signing continues today.

The event was designed to promote local authors and allow customers to personalize their purchases, said Laurie Gilman, events coordinator.

Billed as one of the largest book signings in the state, the festival features well-known picture-book creator Chris Van Dusen, former Gov. Angus King and WCSH-TV reporter Don Carrigan.

There are also less-well-known writers, such as Sheila Grant, author of “50 Great New England Fish Vacations.” Grant’s book points out not only good places for recreational anglers to fish, but also interesting nearby activities for their non-fishing family members.

“The book title throws people,” said Grant.

On Saturday morning a line of fans waited to meet Donn Fendler, who spent nine days lost on Mount Katahdin at age 12 in 1939. Fendler has been the subject of two books, the classic, “Lost on a Mountain in Maine” by Joseph Egan, and the newly released graphic novel, “Lost Trail: Nine Days Alone in the Wilderness,” by Fendler, Lynn Plourde and artist Ben Bishop.

“I liked all the details. It was like I was beside him the whole time,” said Kyra Davenport, 8, who stood in line with a copy of the survival saga.

Author Ardeana Hamlin sat by stacks of her latest, “Abbott’s Reach,” the fictional adventures of a woman who joins her Maine sea-captain husband on an around-the-world voyage in the 1800s. Hamlin said Maine is a wonderful place to be a writer.

“People really appreciate the art of writing. Mainers are readers,” said Hamlin.

Back at the Matinicus Island table, Murray’s stacks of books had dwindled, many of them going to customers who told her they had a connection to the island. Murray said she ceased to be surprised long ago at how many people have a tie to her tiny community.

“I’ll be sitting in the airport in Cleveland and someone will say, ‘I know this island in Maine but you will never know it,’” said Murray.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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