In early 2011, I walked into Island Books and asked Roger Page for a job. “No,” he said. “I haven’t hired anyone in over a decade and I’m not about to start now. You have no retail experience whatsoever. If you’re serious, come back in three months and maybe we’ll talk—and that’s a big maybe.”
My husband and I had just moved from Capitol Hill and bought a major fixer-upper a few blocks from the bookstore. After several years as an assistant editor at a major New York publishing house, a job as part of the Amazon Books Team had brought me to Seattle. Four years, marriage, and months of fruitless IVF treatments later, I’d left the position and couldn’t figure out where it was all heading. I spent the first few months in our new house fighting a half acre of abandoned garden.
Roger thought I wasn’t coming back, but I was. I watched the store carefully over the next few months. It was true I had no retail experience, but I’d been at the center of the book industry for nearly a decade and examined it from a variety of perspectives, from editing to writing to contract negotiations to data analysis to online marketing and beyond. I knew I could add something that was missing and I was already in love with Island Books ... continued