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50 Years of Island Books: Our Sales Reps

In this installment, we’re seeing Island Books through the eyes of our sales reps. Dan Christiaens, Christine Foye, David Glenn and Kurtis Lowe all have decades-long relationships with Island Books, with lots of stories to share.

Miriam: Welcome Dan, Christine, David, and Kurtis! I'm excited to talk to all of you. As key sales reps for the big publishing houses, you've all had long-standing relationships with Island Books, and we wouldn't be the place we are today without your contributions. Tell me some stories! It can be about your first impression of the store, how you came to work with us, a particular title that did well at Island Books, or any other fond memories.

Dan Christiaens (Norton): I’ll start off. It was around 20 years ago that I started covering accounts in the PNW. I was still living in SoCal. Island Books was on my account list so on my first trip I stopped by and met Roger. He was pretty terse, made it clear that he didn’t see reps, but would review my stuff and send me an order for anything that he wanted. The store was lovely, well curated, with the typewriters all over and a small music section featuring CD’s, which caught my attention. I would stop by the store when I was in town, say hello, and always buy a CD or two.

When I moved up here in 2004, I started visiting the store more regularly, chatting with Cindy or Nancy, or even Rogerand would buy a CD or order some music that I wanted that they didn’t carry, and began to suggest music they should be aware of. Then our books became the topic of conversation, and I started recommending various books of ours. Roger slowly came to respect my knowledge of our booksand we became friendly, and then MAGIC HAPPENED! And he started ordering from me!

Christine Foye (Simon & Schuster): Here's one of my favorite photos of all time, a picture of Laurie, Taylor Jenkins Reid, and me on tour for the hardcover of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Which leads me to.... 

Thoughts on Summer Reading

As someone who's on social media—specifically the book part of Instagram—a fair amount, I hear a lot about how different people read. Some read the next book they plan to read, have five more books lined up after that, and for the most part they'll get them read in that order. Others read whatever strikes their fancy whenever it strikes their fancy. I am a mood reader at heart, but one who wedges in that library book that she's had checked out for months which she DID really want to read at the time so now she better stop in the middle of her other six current reads to rush through it in time to return it tomorrow... which is exactly what I'm going to resume doing once I finish this blog post. So maybe I'm a mood reader with "obligatory books" hanging over her head. 

Part of being a mood reader is the fluctuation of what I want to read each season. For the fall, witchy books like The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, Spells for Forgetting, Wild Is the Witch, and The League of Gentlewomen Witches. In the winter it was mostly science fiction by Becky Chambers. But the most talked about season in the reading community has to be summer. Summer reads, beach reads, vacation reads. Light books that you fall into and out of like a summer fling. This fits the traditional idea of summer reads that we all know and love, but the genres included in summer reading lists have expanded over the past few years. We at Island Books put together a shelf full of summer books for every reader, surrounded by sticky notes with suns and right next to our Staff Picks shelf.

50 Years of Island Books: Nancy Stewart

If a bookstore could have a house band for kids, Nancy Stewart would be it! Nancy has been an Island resident and children's singer-songwriter for nearly forty years and over that time has become a fixture at Island Books storytimes. Her passion for the connection between early literacy and singing is infectious, and at times makes Saturday mornings noisy and happily disruptive.

Miriam: Can you tell me about how you first came to Island Books, Nancy? What was the Mercer Island community like at the time?

Nancy: We moved to Mercer Island in 1981, and even then, Island Books was the hub of the community. I was still performing in nightclubs at the time (among other things I was the house entertainment for an elegant little restaurant called Klahowyan, located in a little one-story mall across from the QFC). I began singing for children and when I made my first children's recording in 1989, I took it to Island Books. When I asked Fam Bayless, the owner at that time, if she would sell it, she said, "Well, I'll listen to it and if it's good, I will." It was that simple, and that began the wonderful relationship I have had with Island Books for the last forty years. In those days bookstores were the main retailer of children's music. The bookstore hand-sold our cassette recording for many years, and then the CD, along with many of my other titles, although Goodnight, Sleep Tight was always the best seller. Mercer Island looked quite different then, of course, but it always had a reputation for being a great place to raise kids, and a beautiful place to live. 

(An off-topic random piece of Island Books trivia I'm sure you know, the inside of the playhouse is decorated with sweet little drawings done by local artist and art teacher, Poo Putsch. I featured them as part of my sing-along scavenger hunt when I started Sing With Our Kids in 2012. Most adults have never been inside, so don't know).


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