"A book is a dream you hold in your hands."
Hi. Cindy here. I’ve been working at Island Books since 1994, for more than half of the store’s duration. I am the most senior member of the Island Books staff. I know where the bodies are buried (there are none). I am proud to be a small part of a wholly benevolent institution that has lasted this long. Who would have thought we could survive, profit, and flourish for 45 years? That feels like a success story to me.
You might wonder, is this an anniversary or a birthday? It is certainly an anniversary for the staff past and present--this bookstore our common bond.
For me it started with Roger Page, the owner at that time, who hired me in 1994 and entrusted me with a key to his beautiful store on my very first day. Nancy, his wife, came on board years later to curate our growing gift selection. Meb was the children’s book buyer back then, Terri, also in the kids' section, taught me the value of changing shoes over the course of the day. Lalo, who moderated our open book clubs for years, Wendy, who I can never say enough good things about, Poo Putsch who painted the playhouse and those fantastic signs that still hang back in the kids section, and Elinor MacDonald, who custom cut cardboard so the books wouldn’t have to sit on the rough cedar shelves. Fastidious Sally Kennedy, bookkeeper for many years and Marilyn Brody (who freed us from the petty oppression of counting the coins in the till at close). Mark K. and Lori Mitchell, my 18-years-sister-in-bookselling who ditched us for a library in Vermont. Garry Jarman a kind of brother and zen father figure to us all. The writers MJ Beaufrand for a while and Christine Widman for a bit and Tami Szerlip, who dressed our front window way back when, and Julie who moved to Boston at some point and Kay Wilson who was already packing reuseable canvas totes way before it became de rigueur du jour, now saving the world from her house on Lummi Island, and Nancy Shawn way back then and now (yay!) Nancy Shawn again, and Tonya for not long enough and Marni Gittinger, dog whisperer-in-residence who somehow always knew everything in the news, pop culture, and books, and James Crossley, a literary gentleman and Renaissance man who along with former ballerina and New York editor, Miriam, created our website and a flurry of writing that every week makes us all look good, and of course Lillian, our Children’s Books buyer who knows a great story when she sees one and can tell a great story too. Lori, or LRob as we call her, who transformed from a mild-mannered South End Barista to a kickass North End Bookista. Recently we’ve welcomed to staff Kelleen, who is a total reading and proofreading machine, and Jinny's great part-time help. I don’t know if this is feeling celebratory or maudlin and long-winded, but thankers gotta thank, writers gotta write and readers ... can always stop reading.
One last thing. Throughout all of my time here, there was always, always, always, the Legend of Lola Deane. The mother of it all. She who instigated this operation in 1973 with a host of help and other owners who all predated me—Fam Bayliss, Marge Wilkins, Elinor MacDonald, Julia Olsen, Andrea Lorig, Lissa Wells. Forgive me if I missed a name somewhere along the way.
When Roger passed the torch to Laurie and Victor Raisys, he knew and we knew they would keep the flame alive and thriving. These past three years under their leadership, Island Books has continued in a long tradition of yearly donations to local schools, causes, and organizations, from Alzheimer's to NPR to Seattle Arts and Lectures. We've hosted more and more events with authors, speakers, storytellers, and musicians. And Island Books continues on in the same spirit.
But most importantly, this is also our 45th anniversary with you--a uniquely supportive and always evolving community that keeps appreciating what we do. We hope you know how very incredibly much your ongoing support has drastically mattered to our duration these past 45 years.
We hope you can come to our official celebration this Saturday, November 3rd at 4pm. We’ll be offering up drinks and delicious cake from our new neighbor Convivial Café. If you’re moved to bring a treat to share, that would be great, and please drop us an RSVP so we know how many revelers we must needs prepare for.
So here’s to us for keepin’ on, and here’s to you for keepin’ on too. It’s our 45th anniversary! Happy anniversary to us all.