Ingram is excited to welcome Read Island as a new vendor! Inspired by books and nature, Read Island’s product line offers puzzles, socks, masks, and greeting cards that evoke the imagination and whimsy of childhood.
We recently talked with Read Island’s Nicole Magistro, the former owner of the indie bookstore The Bookworm of Edwards, who started Read Island during the pandemic. Read on to hear Nicole’s story and be sure to check out Read Island products on ipage.
How did Read Island come about?
I owned The Bookworm of Edwards for 15 years and in some ways this line came directly out of that experience. As the owner, buyer, and creative leader I was often on the hunt for the perfect products – items that customers came in asking for, items priced right for retail that still had a good margin for the bookstore. This was especially true for children’s gift items that would make perfect keepsakes and that had a story to tell. All along, I admired companies like Out of Print and Litographs for their literary themes, and I just loved the spirit of Compendium and eBoo for being so in touch with the joys of childhood.
That demand stayed in the back of my mind, even after I sold the store in 2020. Ever an entrepreneur, I knew I wanted to do something to fill that void while also fostering my need to be creative and learn new parts of the book industry.
Then at some point during the pandemic, I became inspired by a visualization meditation my son and I did together each day. You know the prompt … Imagine your favorite place. It could be somewhere you’ve been before, or somewhere you can go only in your imagination…
As it turns out, my son and I both visualized our favorite place in the world, a remote island in the far reaches of coastal British Columbia. The real place is called Read Island, and our family has been going there for 25 years. Suddenly I realized the moniker’s association to my life’s work; I finally saw the symbolism.
Not too long after that, I teamed up with the author and illustrator Alice Feagan, who happens to live near me and has become well known for her distinct cut-paper collage style. She had just completed The Collectors (Kids Can Press, May 2021), and we decided to collaborate with a local designer and printer to develop two gift collections featuring active kids, books and nature.
Tell us about your products and what makes your company unique.
Our camp theme features all of the Read Island summer characters – kids who read, hang out in hammocks, climb mountains, camp, and fish. Their forest friends include bighorn sheep, squirrel, bunny, cougar, owl, bear, fox, and a family of finches.
Our ski theme features all of the Read Island winter characters – kids who read, ski, snowshoe, and sip hot cocoa. Their mountain friends include fox, bighorn sheep, squirrel, cougar, bunny, and owl.
All of the products are made in Colorado and sourced in the USA. Minimizing packaging and using recycled materials are two critical values. The cards are made from 80% recycled paper, while the puzzle box, envelopes, and hang tags are 100% recycled.
We’re making the best of public health protocols with comfortable, adjustable, and adorable face masks for kids. The masks and socks are machine washable (and have been tested on a neighborhood of children who get things really dirty)!
The centerpiece of the line will be my first book, a jacketed hardcover story called Read Island. It is set to release September 14, 2021. We will open pre-orders in May. The book features a rhyming text and an uplifting message for young readers. One line from the book: “The world of stories, safe and true, is always here to welcome you.”
In this story, a girl makes her way by boat to a magical island made of books, just in time for story hour. Her friends include a studious fox, stowaway mouse, groovy spirit bear, and a moose who cooks. Along the way, readers are invited to go any place their imagination can conjure.
How has your experience in the book industry shaped the company and the products you create?
It has informed the back story, no doubt. I love books and the book world! My absolute favorite part of being a bookseller was interacting with the creative people who made and wrote everything I displayed on the shelf. Whether an author or an artist, the people who carried out their creative processes always inspired me – so much so I always wanted to join their ranks!
I think I always balanced that creative pull with my business side. My innate interest in production, marketing, sales and finance helped me build a sustainable model pretty quickly. I’m grateful to those I learned from along the way; my relationships with sales reps and vendors informed my buying decisions and helped me curate a quality collection when I was a bookseller. Now I’m on the other end of that relationship, and I appreciate it on a whole new level.
Check out Read Island products on ipage!