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News From the Front

April 30, 2015


In Memorium

by Barry Singer

We are so sorry to inform you all of the loss of Cindi Di Marzo, whom many of you knew as the soul of Chartwell Booksellers, our Lady at the front of the store. Cindi passed away most tragically and unexpectedly this past weekend after a fall at her home.

Cindi Di Marzo was passionate about books. Her passion was communicated to virtually everyone who walked into Chartwell Booksellers, or telephoned Chartwell Booksellers, or even emailed the store. Cindi connected with our customers profoundly, through their interests and their inquiries. Bookseller connections are often unexpectedly personal. Sharing what one reads opens a window onto both soul and psyche. In the end, Cindi touched a great many lives.

She was born and raised in Hicksville, Long Island; a twin -- her sister, Jodi, survives her. Cindi graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Syracuse University with a dual Bachelors Degree in Journalism and History. She got her Masters Degree in Children’s Literature from Simmons College in Boston, then worked in publishing for, among others, Oxford University Press, where she was an Assistant Editor, and G.P. Putnam’s Sons Children’s Publishing Group, where she rose from Editorial Assistant to Associate Editor to, finally, Managing Editor.

Children's books were Cindi's universe, as my own children, Lea and Sara, discovered. Their frequent visits to the store always revolved around Cindi's effusive recommendations of books they should next read. Their literary world expanded every time they saw her.

Cindi was an excellent writer herself and wrote book reviews for Publisher's Weekly for more than a decade. She also contributed extended reviews and interviews on the arts and culture to Studio International, a marvelous British-based e-journal descended from The Studio: An Illustrated Magazine of Fine and Applied Art, first published in London in 1893. I strongly recommend revisiting Cindi's writing on the Studio International site. It is terrific.

Cindi started working here at Chartwell four years ago, coming to us from the Borders bookstore at Penn Station, where she was a wildly over-qualified, deeply devoted, children’s bookseller. In looking back, I've discovered the email exchange that I had with Cindi when she first applied for her job. I thought I would share it with you here, and let Cindi speak for herself, eloquently, one final time:

Dear Mr. Singer,

I must assure you that you will have difficulty finding anyone who is more passionate about books than I am. For my first job, at age 13, I became a page at our hometown public library. I held the position through high school and returned on my summer vacations from college. In college, I worked in the interlibrary loan department at Syracuse University Libraries. In graduate school, I worked at The Children's Bookshop in Brookline, MA, along with managing an art gallery that sold children's picture book art and serving as an assistant at the Horn Book magazine, which reviews children's books.

When I took my first job in publishing, I worked weekends at a small independent bookstore with locations on the Upper East and Upper West sides of Manhattan. I couldn't bear to pull myself away from the book/reader connection. I found that in publishing, I didn't have that strong connection with the reader. As a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, I get to imagine a new readership with every review that I write. I believe that if one has an extraordinary reading life, then life is better, larger and holds more possibilities.

I have no doubt that your clientele includes some fascinating characters. I am mature, well-spoken and feel comfortable around all sorts of people. While working in such a large retail environment as the Borders Penn Plaza location, I have honed my skill with making other people feel comfortable with me and in the store, particularly those from other countries who speak foreign languages.

As an undergraduate, I did a dual major in journalism and history. Although I focused on recent American history, I did a fair amount of course work in world history. I do have a great deal to learn about Churchill, but I look forward to doing so. Trust in the seller is essential, even more so when the merchandise is rarified. If I worked for you, I would do what I do whenever I write an article for Studio International: research a mini master's thesis on the subject. As an employee, I will have more time to go deep as well as broad.

I hope that you will consider me as a candidate.


Cindi Di Marzo



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