Lisa Valentino had always wanted to foster a literary community in Warren, Rhode Island, her hometown of 32 years. This year, she decided to act on that dream; in October, she will host the grand opening of Ink Fish Books, a new and used bookstore that specializes in cookbooks and food culture.
Before breaking into the book industry, Valentino worked in the newspaper publishing business for 30 years. She began by designing newspaper print advertising for a statewide daily paper and over time came to serve as supervisor to the department manager of the paper, overseeing the addition of all new products, services, and technologies into the day-to-day operations.
In addition to her work in newspaper publishing, Valentino has always been passionate about books and reading, which is why she decided to pursue this new venture.
“Bookstores tie a community together by offering a space to share the ritual of browsing, thinking, and communicating,” Valentino said, adding that she reads everything from historical fiction and poetry to books on business and leadership. “I want to provide that space to find new ideas and meet new thinkers through books, local products, and events.”
Valentino began the process of opening a bookstore in February of this year by conducting interviews with local small business owners and bookstores to gain insight into their operations, management, and marketing. She then decided to join the American Booksellers Association to take advantage of the webinars and community boards that could connect her to more booksellers; this year, she also attended BookExpo in New York City.
“Each step in the process was a building block toward opening a bookstore,” Valentino said. “Everything has really come together in the last two months.”
The decision to specialize in cookbooks, locally made food products, and cooking tools was sparked by a food incubator local to Valentino.
“Cookbooks and cooking are another one of my passions,” said Valentino. “Hope and Main is this town’s incubator...Many food entrepreneurs are part of this community program and we will feature their products in displays with similar cookbooks.”
Ink Fish Books will also have a selection of genre titles as well as audiobooks. In the coming months, Valentino plans to set up a book club, a loyalty program, and a trade back program.
So far, Valentino has felt welcomed by her community of fellow booksellers. “I have met so many wonderful people who have offered their time and assistance,” she said. “I am excited and look forward to serving the Warren East Bay area community.”