Story of a Bookseller
Kim Britt, 53, is dedicated to sharing locally grown words that build connections between readers and writers.
Britt, whose background is in marketing and event planning, never had a burning desire to open a bookstore but, when opportunity knocked, “I said, ‘OK, let’s try it!’ I’ve read everything from romance novels to Kierkegaard. I’ve always read cookbooks like novels. When I go on vacations, I travel to see the newest bookstores.” It made sense to Britt, whose first job at age 15 was at the old Winter Park Library, to try on the role of bookseller. In March 2014, she opened Bookmark It at Orlando’s East End Market.
“I was really looking for something to throw myself into. I had been a volunteer for the Urban Think Foundation . . . and I got to meet a lot of writers, and a lot of people who are really involved in making Orlando a little bit more of a creative space. I got swept up in their enthusiasm.”
The snug Bookmark It shop, with about 1,500 books and more than 700 titles, is tucked amid the bustling market where kitchen clatter, lively conversation and the fragrances of brewing coffee and artisan foods deliver a multi-sensory experience. Britt says she and her small staff enjoy the atmosphere where “entrepreneurs are very supportive of one another.”
Readers can find a small selection of works by celebrated authors like Paul Harding who have visited Orlando and connected with Britt through book events. But local writers prevail at Bookmark It with their novels and memoirs, cookbooks and children’s books, nonfiction and photography books. Britt’s business also acts as a bookseller for local authors at area speaking engagements.
Last local book she couldn’t put down: The Heaven of Animals, a collection of short stories by David James Poissant. “I had heard him deliver a couple of them at spoken-word events but when I finally got it in my hands, I was up all night reading it.”
The bookseller’s reward: “Seeing people connect and get excited over books, from the joy of watching an author present their new book at a book launch party to the camaraderie of people connecting over an interesting passage, or even the smile of a child meeting a ‘real live author’ for the first time. All of this instills a faith in me that despite all the bad this world can dish up, something as simple as words on paper can still deliver joy.”
Read between the lines: “I do have a Kindle somewhere and have a tendency to use it for travel. It’s lighter, plus then there is room in my bag to buy books where I go. Or I use it to download titles that are needed to problem-solve quickly—such as a how-to on putting together a bookshelf.”