When Elaine Petrocelli opened a bookstore thirty-two years ago, she envisioned a place that would bring the world to Marin and vice versa. That she has done so successfully, against the odds, is in itself a great story.
Elaine Petrocelli has always been the face and heart of Book Passage, with her husband, Bill, working in the background. She announces speakers, introduces new programs, speaks to the community and will recommend a string of books at the slightest request. She has worked hard to ensure that Book Passage remains Marin’s favorite bookstore.
Innovation, hard work, optimism and community spirit are Elaine’s trademarks. When celebrity authors visit the Bay Area, they want to come to Book Passage. The store hosts 700 author events each year – nearly two a day – of presidents, pundits, Nobelists and first time novelists. Many people come hours early or sit on the floor just to glimpse their favorite authors
Book Passage classes and conferences help make it more than just a business. Book Passage teaches everything from writing memoirs to marketing your manuscript. The calendar is anchored each year by the Mystery Writers Conference, the Children’s Book Conference, and the Travel Writers Conference. With a reputation for solid content, an engaging professional faculty and an international base for students, Book Passage has brought the community bookstore to a new level.
Elaine makes sure to give back to the community. Under her guidance, Book Passage events raise money for Hospice of Marin, Marin Community Clinic, Buckelew Programs, Canal Community Alliance, Marin Abused Women Services, Marin Aids Projects, Breast Cancer Action, Performing Stars, Marin Literacy Project, Marin Education Fund and many other programs. Book Passage becomes a rallying-point in times of crisis. When the literary community wanted to put on a fund-raiser on short notice to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Book Passage stepped in with an extraordinarily successful event.
Elaine and Book Passage are widely recognized beyond Marin, with a newsletter reaching 40,000 people worldwide. Other independent booksellers consider her an innovator and mentor. Elaine has been named “Bookseller of the Year” by Publishers Weekly and recognized as a “Woman Making History” by the International Women’s Forum. She has received a “Creative Achievement Award” from Mill Valley as well as an “Inspiring the Future Award” from the Marin Education Fund. Elaine Petrocelli has written herself into the heart of the community and the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame.