Now in its 34th year, The Book Loft is the legacy of my husband, the late Bill Nelson. A former business executive from Ohio, lending a hand to a bookstore there, discovered a whole new lifestyle for himself. My name is Sue and this is the beginning of our adventure in Amelia Island.
Bill created an "old-fashioned" bookstore where people can browse and enjoy a beautiful collection of books. Our customers become nostalgic when they approach the store slowly, stand and stare at what they have missed. After Bill's death in 2011, I jumped in with both feet to sustain the operation despite the economic downturn and bleak outlook for indie bookstores. I haven't looked back! Our customers are loyal, the Amelia Island visitors are generous, and we have flourished as the island's oldest independent bookstore.
Leveraging partnerships with the community lends to our success. We frequently support and collaborate with the Fernandina Public Library and the Amelia Island Book Festival.
But the biggest asset to an independent bookstore is its people. I attribute our success to our team who has a deep knowledge of the inventory and a commitment to serving the reader thus inviting us to expand their world – one book at a time.
My favorite authors include:
Fiction - Alan Furst and Amor Towles
Classics - Pearl Buck and Ernest Hemingway
Children's - Lois Lenski and Mo Willems
In addition to award-winning fiction, nonfiction, classics, cooking, and inspirational titles, we have a broad selection of books on Amelia Island and its pirate history, as well as the history of Florida, and the Civil War plus many autographed first editions. In the loft upstairs, we'll introduce you to a selection of older hardback fiction at half-price and our resident ghost, Katherine.
We are a frequent host of indie and first-time authors and special events with best-selling authors as well as French classes, a children's story hour, book clubs, and a knitting group. We celebrate the beauty of Amelia Island by showcasing the artwork of renowned watercolor artist William Maurer.
The store appeals to everyone - tourists, locals, historians, and children to name a few. Many celebrity authors have visited the store to share their books including John Grisham, Karen White, Dean Koontz, Dorothea Benton Frank, Steve Berry, Cassandra King, Jacques Pepin, Jimmy Buffett, Charles Martin, and the late Pat Conroy.
Like the yesteryear of Macy's, our window displays are award-winning and our collection of antiques alone makes for an interesting stroll through the store.
We are grateful to our customers and the community of Fernandina Beach, and are proud to hold the title of "the oldest independent bookstore" - 30 years and counting".
What’s one more career? Catherine Owens, our new General Manager, began her first career in retail with The Coca Cola Company and her second career with United Way of Greater Atlanta. Retirement did not feel right and as a voracious reader working at The Book Loft became the perfect fit. Anything history tends to be Catherine’s genre, whether it is fiction, biography or non-fiction. When not on Centre Street you can find Catherine riding her bike, walking the beaches, volunteering at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church or traveling to see her family in Atlanta, her
Trained as a bookseller in Switzerland, Rita has worked in the book business for over 45 years and has served readers on two continents and two coasts. As The Book Loft's buyer, Rita manages the inventory and keeps up with the demand for new releases as well as old favorites.
Rita's favorites include:
Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
For more than 15 years, Cathy has served The Book Loft and its community of readers. "C" is for Cathy and Children - she is our resident expert on children's books and young adult fiction. Rainy day? Great time to browse a bookstore. Scorcher? Just as great to take a break from the heat.
Phyllis has worked with The Book Loft for so many years, we've lost count! She's done just about everything but mostly enjoys helping our readers find the perfect puzzles. She loves a good beach read or thriller and recommends taking a break in between with a challenging, world-famous Ravensburger puzzle.
Phyllis' favorites include:
Palindrome, A Cumberland Island Suspense Novel by Stuart Woods
Loving Frank, the Life of Frank Lloyd Wright by Nancy Horan
Dan is an avid reader and book collector and shares his expertise with our customers everyday. In fact, some of our unique first editions are "finds" from Dan. He is in the store some evenings - stop by and he'll show you the collection!
Dan's favorites include:
Angle of Repose and The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner
Jim started part-time in May of 2021 and has enjoyed every minute in the company of books. Jimmy is a retired postmaster and National Guard Veteran. His favorite books to read are biography and history. When not at The Book Loft, Jim enjoys the many benefits of life on Amelia Island including cruising the beach and spending time with pug Bandit!
Shelley moved with her family from Maryland to Amelia Island in March of 2021. She is excited to call this beautiful island home and to join The Book Loft family as a part-time staffer and event planner. Shelley worked 11 years as a librarian and administrator for a parochial school in the suburbs of Baltimore. She had the pleasure of teaching students from kindergarten through 8th grade the love of reading and how important it is in all we do.
Along with reading, she loves to spend time with family, enjoying our beautiful beaches, yoga, cooking, traveling and just hanging with her pups!
You may have seen Kayli snapping pictures around the store or posting on social media. Kayli is the Communications Coordinator at The Book Loft. A Georgia Southern Alum, she earned her B.S. in Public Relations and hit the ground running with social media, web design and event organizing. After several years at The Book Loft, Kayli still enjoys the classics such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. When at home she enjoys the splendor of Fernandina’s beaches and quality time with her two Pomeranians.
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