Sneak Peek: Overheard at Zibby's Bookshop!

Sneak Peek: Overheard at Zibby's Bookshop!

In this extra special episode, Zibby sits down with her colleagues and friends, Sherri Puzey (@whatsherrireads) and Diana Tramontano (@99livesofabookgirl), to discuss the opening of Zibby’s Bookshop, a beautiful, highly-curated, community-centered, and (soon to be) author-frequented independent bookstore located at 1113 Montana Ave in Santa Monica. The three share their hopes for the store, and explain how it even came to be – from an impromptu brainstorming session at happy hour and meticulously curating each shelf, to renovating the 800-ft space and planning a 40+ author palooza for opening weekend in record time! (Oh, and this is also the first episode of “Overheard at Zibby’s Bookshop,” the bonus podcast that will stream all in-store book events!)


Zibby Owens interviews Sarah Polley, about her new book RUN TOWARDS THE DANGER: Confrontations with a Body of Memory.

Zibby Owens: Today is a really special episode of “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books” because this is also going to be the first episode of “Overheard at Zibby’s Bookshop.” Zibby’s Bookshop is my new bookstore opening in Santa Monia, California, on February 18th. Not only are we going to have tons of in-person author events, but we’re offering a bonus podcast for “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books” listeners that you can subscribe to monthly and get podcast recordings of every in-person event we have, which is so cool. We have thirty events already planned, and we haven’t even opened, with so many authors who are going to visit while they’re doing their cross-country, international tours. It’s going to be so much fun. Now you can be a fly on the wall even if you’ve never been to California or never want to go to California or don’t like going to bookstores but love author conversations. This will be the place for you. I thought to give a little context for what Zibby’s Bookshop even is and why I’ve started a bookshop and who I’ve started it with and all that good stuff I would do a little introduction with my colleagues and friends, Sherri Puzey, @whatsherrireads, and Diana Tramontano, @99livesofabookgirl. These two bookstagrammers and amazing women and I are the founding team of Zibby’s Bookshop. Welcome, ladies.

Diana Tramontano: Thanks, Zibby.

Sherri Puzey: Thanks, Zibby. Super excited.

Zibby: The three of us first sat in New York and had drinks one night. They were really sweet and invited me at the last minute. I was like, “Really? Okay.” I raced out the door and came and met them. I talked about the bookstore. They were like, “What are your plans? What are you doing? We want to be involved.” I was like, “Amazing. Let’s do it.” Then we started talking about the name. What happened?

Diana: We were so excited. We’ve both always wanted to do a bookstore. When you said that, we were like, of course, “Can we do anything to help and be a part of it?”

Sherri: You’ve been thinking about this. This has been a long time coming. It all just worked out. The name, we were tossing around Zibby Books, but that’s the publishing company.

Zibby: At one point, I wanted to do Crummy Books — remember? — and sell crumb cakes. That would’ve been cute too, but anyway.

Sherri: Then Zibby’s Bookshop. We were like, great.

Diana: It just made sense.

Zibby: That was you, though. Take credit. It’s okay.

Sherri: I’ll take the credit. It’s a cute name.

Zibby: All credit goes to Sherri. It’s perfect. That night, we thought about the name and started talking about what it would look like, things like that.

Sherri: We knew the square footage. We kind of knew general layout of the interior of the store.

Zibby: I had already gotten Joe Nicoletti to help out. He’s the contractor for my house in LA and is amazing. Joe Nicoletti of Chameleon Works. I am now never going to be able to get anything fixed in my house because everyone’s going to use him for everything, but it’s okay. Go Joe. I want you to be happy and successful. He helped with everything. I was basically like, “Make it look like the house. I want it to look just like it, same floors, same walls.” I want it to feel like my living room because I really want to open up my living room to authors and whatever. Now there are people who want to come I don’t even know, so this is probably safer and better. Then Joe — had he already sketched?

Diana: No, not until a little bit before we came out.

Sherri: He sketched the next week because then the following week, we were out and looked at the store in person for the first time.

Zibby: Actually, Joe and my husband Kyle had seen the store before any of us had. Joe went. I was talking about all the blues that we wanted. He came up with the idea to put beams on the ceiling. It was really just a big cement block. It was no character, no nothing, lots of windows, which is great.

Sherri: Good windows and good lighting.

Zibby: And great position on a corner, 11th and Montana. Really cute.

Sherri: Great walking community. The inside was a total blank slate. It’s been transformed.

Zibby: The bathroom was a disaster. We were not stepping foot in that. Joe went to work. He designed a sketch, which we’ve used all over social media and everything. He just did it one night and then was FaceTiming me from his “home office” — I’m using quotes — with different fabrics swatches. I was like, “No, not that. Yes, that. No, that.” We made eight million decisions. Wait, we came out before Thanksgiving, right? What happened?

Diana: Yeah, we came out a couple weeks before Thanksgiving. We saw the store. That’s when we figured out how to do the shelves. We were up late that one night in the kitchen.

Zibby: That’s right.

Diana: Our vision for the store came to life that weekend.

Zibby: Had we gone to the store during the day?

Diana: We went to the store during the day. We saw the layout.

Zibby: That’s when we got our keys, right?

Diana: Yeah. It’s a small space. We’re like, how can we curate this in a unique way and make the most of the room that we have?

Sherri: So that when the readers come in, we can really give them the book that they want.

Zibby: Yes. We were like, we can’t possibly have every book everybody wants. That’s not what the value of a bookstore really is. Everyone’s so excited. Oh, you’re opening a bookstore. You could get a book on your phone in less than the time it’ll take me to finish my sentence. It’s not about access to books. It’s more about, what’s the bookstore doing for the community? How does it make you feel? How does the store make people feel? All the other things. We were like, let’s lean into that.

Diana: It’s the experience. You go there. Some people have a book in mind. Some people just go in and walk around, and so all the shelves appeal to that person. Especially for a non-reader, they don’t know where to start. If there’s a million books by genre, it’s overwhelming. With this store, it’s more appealing to how you feel, if you want to laugh, if you want to cry, if you love music or animals.

Zibby: After eating an entire chocolate chip challah from Gelson’s, digging in with our bare hands, stuffing our faces — it was delicious. We were wired enough to stay up for hours and took all the computer paper, and we literally sketched out what the shelves would look like in a grid and then assigned what shelf would be what. Now we’ve literally just put the books away to make it look like that.

Diana: According to that original plan, yes.

Zibby: We had, author-curated shelves would “bookend,” quotes again, would “bookend” the room. Now we have author-curated shelves by amazing authors like Kevin Kwan and Lori Gottlieb, Katie Couric, ten amazing authors. We did that. Then we said, let’s do it by how you want to feel.

Sherri: How you want to feel and then for the people in your life. You had just done a Zibby Mag article about books for certain people. We loved that.

Zibby: That’s right. For the traveler.

Sherri: The foodie.

Zibby: Did we do the sisters one?

Diana: Best friends.

Zibby: Weren’t we going to do one about sisters and moms?

Diana: We did it for the best friend.

Zibby: Oh, yeah, that’s right. We changed it to the best friends.

Sherri: Best friends. For parents.

Diana: For writers.

Zibby: For writers. For parents.

Diana: For the music lover. For the animal lover.

Zibby: For the athlete.

Sherri: History lover. Music lover.

Zibby: Then we did more curated ones. What are my GMA picks for that month? What the two of you are reading.

Sherri: We’ll have a new-release section so that you can always find —

Zibby: — Buzzy Books. Also, the books written by authors who are being published by our publishing company, Zibby Books. Alisha Fernandez Miranda will be the only one to start because we have one a month. For now, it’ll just be one book. Also, she curated a shelf.

Sherri: All her picks so that as you’re getting to know her, you can get to know her reading tastes. You can read her memoir and then read the books that she enjoys.

Zibby: Eventually, since we have twelve a year — I don’t know what we’re going to do because then we need twelve shelves. We’ll handle that. I was on Wayfair. We were ordering extra bookcases. I’m like, we could squeeze one in here.

Sherri: Wayfair has been our friend. Then we also spent Thanksgiving break —

Diana: Texting back and forth.

Sherri: — trying to finish everything for the store. Everything has come together so fast.

Zibby: I was in Montana staying at my brother’s with my family. My niece and my mom and I basically found everything to the point where she came in the store yesterday and pointed to the window seat cushion and was like, to her dad, “You have no idea how long it took us to order that.” There were so many options for those window cushions. It was true. It took us forever. Anyway, so I was texting you guys furiously. We were texting back and forth. Joe was texting us.

Sherri: Joe was so great at always updating us.

Zibby: He was so nice.

Sherri: He’s been amazing.

Diana: He sent me pictures.

Zibby: Redid the bathroom. We reused tile that we had left from my house. I’m like, use the tile, Joe. It was perfect. He really pushed back on the ceiling, but we insisted on the blue ceiling.

Diana: It looks so pretty.

Zibby: It looks so pretty.

Sherri: It looks so pretty with different blue bookshelves and blue ceiling. It all complements really well. The sketch really came to life.

Zibby: It really did.

Sherri: It really looks like that.

Zibby: Then Kyle and I came out one time without you and went to this local store in Santa Monia. I’m forgetting the name. If I remember, I’ll put it in the show notes. That’s where we got the table in the front and the little things underneath. That’s where we’re putting all the books facing the street. We got the rugs, the two little area rugs. The table was Wayfair, I think.

Sherri: The table was Wayfair.

Zibby: Two little white chairs, Wayfair, Overstock, something.

Sherri: Our checkout desk was…

Zibby: Checkout desk was from Etsy.

Sherri: Esty. It’s gorgeous.

Diana: It’s so perfect in that little nook with the checkout desk and the kids’ book section.

Zibby: It’s made of reclaimed wood and steel or iron, whatever. Then we started hiring our amazing on-the-ground team. Jenny Tarzian is our store manager. Sophie Parker is doing events. They’re awesome. We have a weekend manager, lovely older gentleman named Mike, who is so sweet. He’ll be our weekend manager. Lots of other wonderful booksellers. Then we started planning launch.

Diana: So many authors coming.

Sherri: What all is happening for launch, Zibby? I can’t keep it all straight.

Zibby: February 18th and 19th, we have an author signing fest, something. Need a better name. Need a name for the author fest. We have forty authors coming every hour from eleven to four both days, amazing authors. I can’t believe it. I’m pinching myself. All different types too: nonfiction, like Lori Gottlieb and Jennifer Grey, the actor or actress from Dirty Dancing who wrote Out of the Corner; and then thriller writers, Jessica Knoll and Laura Dave; and a lot of YA. We have a whole YA panel Saturday morning. Not YA. YA/middle grade, like Sarah Mlynowski and Jenny Lee and Julie Buxbaum. Then we have a lot of memoirists, like Melissa Gould and Natasha Sizlo. It’s just amazing. So many other. Miranda Cowley Heller, The Paper Palace. Rebecca Serle, One Italian Summer.

Sherri: And more.

Zibby: And more. Michael Frank, A Hundred Sundays. Claire Bidwell Smith, Rules of Inheritance.

Sherri: Hope Edelman.

Zibby: Hope Edelman. Shannon Lee.

Diana: Alisha will be there.

Zibby: Alisha will be there. She’ll be in conversation. We’ll have our first actual event. We have all these folding chairs that are very cute. That’ll be Sunday the 19th at two, Alisha Fernandez Miranda with Annabelle Gurwitch, whose most recent memoir is You’re Leaving When? Adventures in Downward Mobility, which is currently a finalist for the James Thurber Prize for Humor, which is amazing. They only have three finalists. Along with Steven Cowley, by the way, who — that’s not — Steven…

Diana: Rowley.

Zibby: Rowley. Sorry. Steven Rowley. I knew that. Sorry. Who’s going to be doing two events with us this spring, which is awesome. We forgot a lot of people, but there’s so many other amazing, accomplished authors of all types. That’ll be great. Then we’ll be up and running.

Sherri: More events to come.

Zibby: So many events, oh, my gosh.

Sherri: We’re scheduling so many events.

Zibby: Sally Hepworth’s coming in April, I think.

Sherri: April.

Zibby: I can’t wait. I don’t live in LA full time, which is sad, but that’s okay. I don’t want to miss all the events in the store. I bet none of you listening want to miss all the events in the store. That’s why we’re doing “Overheard at Zibby’s Bookshop,” the bonus podcast that you can subscribe to and get just for you. You won’t miss a thing, which is great. Although, of course, if you’re in the LA area or have friends out there, please send them to the store. Did we say where it was? Zibby’s Bookshop, 1113 Montana Avenue, which is at 11th Street in Santa Monia. We have a website, We have an Instagram that I’ve been ignoring but will start to post on soon, @zibbysbookshop. We’ll have flyers and all sorts of things to hand out, bookmarks. We have great merch. The three of us, you should see us, stranger listener, whoever you are. We are sitting here right now wearing three identical blue sweatshirts from Zibby’s Bookshop with our leggings. On the front, it says Zibby’s Bookshop. On the back in big letters, it says “Stories are best when shared.” We have little mugs, these really adorable tote bags, I have to say.

Diana: They’re so cute.

Zibby: So cute. Two colors, a blue and white. Then around the corner, we have a little Instagram wall, which we’re hoping nobody makes us repaint by the time the store opens, that says “Stories are best when shared” with an open book. You can see what that looks like on our website also.

Sherri: That’s why we’ve done all of it, because it’s true. Stories are best when shared. The in-person connections and coming into the store and talking with other book lovers makes the whole reading experience that much better.

Zibby: You’re absolutely right. We’re going to have story time. Anybody with little guys, little kids who want to come in, we’re going to have story time daily at eleven. Those are nice carpets, though, so maybe just be careful. Maybe I need to put down garbage bags or something. We’ll have story time daily at eleven. We’ll be doing events called Conversations with a Cause where we donate ten percent to whatever charity the author would like. We’re doing a few of those coming up, one with Andrea Dunlop, the author of Women Are the Fiercest Creatures, and the CEO of Citizens of Humanity, Amy Williams, to benefit LA Girls Inc. That’ll be fun. Several other events too.

Sherri: Lots more to come.

Zibby: Lots more to come. We’ll continue, the three of us and Jenny, the manager — people keep asking, how did you pick the books? We just sat down that same night, basically, and we went through most of the books on the podcast. I have to say right away, I feel terrible not being able to put every author’s books in the store because I’ve gone to so many bookstores and really felt so personally hurt that my books weren’t sold. Now that I have a bookstore, I’m like, oh, my gosh, it’s so hard. We have 823 square feet. We’re carrying 1,300 titles. It’s not that many. I’ve had more than that just on my podcast. That doesn’t include the many, many amazing authors, past and present, who we want to have represented, kids’ books, middle grade. If you’re an author and you come to the store and we don’t have your book, it’s not because we don’t love you or think you’re immensely talented. It’s just, we don’t have that much space. We tried to pick a couple things for each of our shelves. Books that make you tremble, there can only be a couple that we picked because we only have the one shelf. We had to really be quite draconian, I guess, with our picks, but I hope you still love it.

Mostly, what I hope is that when people come in, they’re not just like, I need this book. You don’t have it. Ugh, I’m leaving. That’s not what this store is about. We might have not every book you want. That’s okay. You can get whatever book you want a million other ways. What we have is the ability to help you find a book you didn’t even know you needed and a book that’s going to connect with you forever. My greatest wish, honestly, is that people will come back and say, oh, my gosh, that book in the laugh shelf, books that make you laugh, I was laughing all night. I’ve been going through a hard time. That’s just what I needed. Thank you. I never would’ve picked this had I not seen it on that shelf. I have Zibby’s Book Club. A lot of people, I have to say — I pick books, and they’re like, we never would’ve read these books if you hadn’t picked them. That is the best feeling. Don’t you feel like that?

Sherri: Yes.

Diana: Yeah.

Zibby: There’s something really amazing just being book messengers, shepherds. We want our store to do that and help people feel better in their lives, feel inspired, seen, understood, happy, sad, transported, traveling, anything.

Sherri: Learning, connecting.

Zibby: Feeling. That’s it. That’s all we want. Anyway, we’re doing our best with the buying. We will take fewer books but know them very well. We hope you’ll come in. We hope you’ll spread the word. Everybody knows somebody who lives in California, so just tell them. Tell whoever you know in California. Get ready. On this right here, on Acast+, “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books” listeners will just click on the Acast+ link, which is going to be in all of our show notes and everything. Tell a friend. Grab a bottle of wine one night, and just pretend you’re at a book event. Gather some friends. Listen to the conversation. Enjoy it. It’ll be fun. Here we are. Off on another adventure with Sherri and Diana. Come along for the ride. We’re so glad you’re here. Bye.

Sneak Peek: Overheard at Zibby’s Bookshop!

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