It’s true, the Phantom of Island Books exists. I am the Phantom, and no, you probably haven’t seen me around the store. Or if you have, you probably didn’t realize I was an employee, since I have a habit of browsing the shelves and interrogating the booksellers just like a customer. Most of my work happens behind the scenes.
I write this post in response to a note from my esteemed colleagues, who mentioned to me recently that several of our loyal customers have sheepishly asked over the counter at Island Books, “Which one of you is Miriam?”
I have to say, I’m flattered, touched, and humbly embarrassed to hear that’s happening. But it makes sense. I’ve been blogging, writing newsletters, and working on our website for nearly a year now, so if people are asking who I am, it means what we’ve been up to is working. And if that’s the case, I’m elated.
The short explanation is, after my husband and I moved to Mercer Island from Capitol Hill about a year and a half ago and I left a four-year stint at “that-online-bookstore-that-will-not-be-named,” I realized that every time I stopped in or drove by Island Books, I wanted to work there. After eight years spent in the publishing industry, both in New York and Seattle, I longed to get back to my love for books and away from corporations and the politics of big business. As our loyal customers know, Island Books has always been about comfort and caring. That’s what I felt from the store, from the very first time I walked in and Roger Page said to me, “What can I do for you?”
After all, isn’t that what a book says to you every time you open it? Authors try their hardest to entertain, inspire, and educate us and all they require is our willingness to show up. The same is true of Island Books. So I thought, what could be more fun and rewarding than showing up to this special bookstore and helping spread the word about it? So that’s what I do. And trust me, I fought for this job. The Island Books staff works so hard to connect with customers in the store that moving into the online sphere used to be beyond their bandwidth, although Roger and the real web guru of this team, James Crossley, had already begun when I showed up on the scene. (James also happens to be a phenomenal writer, if you haven’t noticed, so feel free to join me in nagging him to write his own book.) Basically, I’m just the person who had the good fortune of showing up at the right time, and the tenacity to keep after Roger until he realized it would be easier to keep me than send me away.
If you’re curious about some of the other hats I wear, you can read this recent article that appeared in the Mercer Island Patch, or follow my new monthly NWBookLovers blog starting in June. I’m also the author of two ballet-themed novels, Girl in Motion and the just-released sequel, Breaking Pointe (both available through Island Books).
First and foremost, readers here should just know me as one of the many book lovers on the team (and the most junior). If you ask me, you’re lucky you can catch the far more experienced experts like Roger, Nancy, Lori, Cindy, Kay, James, Marni, and Garry in the store. They’ve been making Island Books the treasure it is far longer than I’ve had the pleasure of spreading the word. Together, our goal is to do whatever we can to make your experience at Island Books as warm and cozy as curling up with a good book. So thanks for staying connected. We appreciate you and consider you part of our family.
Have I mentioned how much I love this special store? And reading. Oh how I love reading. And I know you do too.