Kerry Slattery, the longtime general manager and co-owner of Skylight Books in Los Feliz, told her staff last night that she is stepping aside. "I’m 70 and I’d like to focus on some writing projects I’ve been thinking about and to take longer camping trips with my life partner, Ben DiGregorio, in our home-made teardrop trailer," Slattery said in a statement. She will remain managing partner of Skylight Books, LLC, owner of the Vermont Avenue store. Slattery named staffer Mary Williams, Skylight's events manager, to succeed her as general manager starting in January.
“I have thought long and hard about what Skylight needs today – and I believe Mary has the right combination of leadership, vision, practicality, knowledge of books and the book industry, the ability to create teams, and the willingness to do whatever it takes,” said Slattery in the statement.
“18 years ago when we opened, we had 6 employees and one storefront – and no one knew who we were. Now we have 20 employees, a popular Arts Annex, and we are included on best bookstore lists around the world. But there are new kinds of challenges, and we are constantly looking for ways to serve our customers better, become more efficient and improve our profitability. “
Slattery said that one of the first items of business should be to create a strategic plan to define where Skylight is now and where it should be in five years. More on the news from Skylight:
Williams has worked at Skylight for over six years and became Events Manager five and a half years ago, booking and managing more than 300 in-store and off-site events per year, including in-store events with Junot Diaz, David Mitchell, William Gibson, William Vollmann, Jeanette Winterson, Jeffrey Eugenides, Amy Goodman, Allie Brosh, T.C. Boyle, Eileen Myles, Patti Smith, as well as emerging writers from local schools and universities.
She currently serves as the Immediate Past President of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association, and has been on that Board for four years.
Before coming to Skylight, Mary worked as a freelance copy editor for academic journals, as an assistant publicist at Newmarket Press in New York, and as a bookseller at the Strand Bookstore. She received a bachelor’s degree in English literature and creative writing at UCLA, where she also served as Arts & Entertainment editor at the Daily Bruin. Currently, in addition to working as Skylight’s events manager, she facilitates a private book club and continues to write fiction, working on a novel.
“As a lifelong book lover, I can think of no job I would enjoy more than managing an independent bookstore,” says Williams. “What Kerry has created in Skylight is a community gathering place, a hub of Los Angeles literary culture, and a venue where some of my favorite authors have come to speak. It’s been a pleasure joining her team and working with such a talented staff for these past six years, and it’s a real honor and privilege to take on this new role. I look forward to tackling the challenges ahead and carrying on the work that Kerry has done so exceptionally since the store’s founding eighteen years ago.”
I hope Kerry gets feted for creating a very welcoming bookstore to browse in, to speak in and to see events in. A job very well done.