|Nicky Salan, with the original Winnie-the-Pooh, owned by A.A. Milne's son, Christopher Robin, which now resides in the New York Public Library.
Necia (Nicky) Salan, who founded Cover to Cover Booksellers, San Francisco, Calif., in 1976, died yesterday at her home. She was 77.
Salan will long be remembered as a sharp book buyer, with a special eye for children's books that were destined to become classics. As some sales reps remember, she had her own way of doing things:
Andy Weiner, Abrams: "Nicky had strong feelings about which books she wanted to sell--particularly when it came to the classics. At some point I was invited to do mock sales presentations to NCIBA members, including Nicky. As I began, I warned the bright-eyed authors and illustrators, 'This may not be easy to watch.' And when I began presenting the Frederick Warne titles, particularly Peter Rabbit spinoffs, they soon learned what I had meant. Board books, bath books, pop-up books. 'This crap isn't what I want in my store,' said Nicky. 'I'll stick with the classic hardcovers and anyone else who wants this garbage can buy it.' I heard a gasp or two from the authors/illustrators, and I turned to them and said, 'See what I mean?' But when Nicky cared passionately about a book, she could sell it better than anyone."
Gigi Reinheimer, Macmillan: "She was so generous. I remember when I first started [as a commissioned rep] at my first NCIBA, she said, 'Come sit near me.' Little did I know. She introduced me to everybody, giving me the thumbs up. She was so opinionated. I saw her first in the season, and she read through every F&G. I had one buyer who would ask, 'What did Nicky say [about the titles]?' And when she loved something she'd call other booksellers and tell them about it. She was so generous with her time and her opinion; and if she cared about you, she made you part of her family, and that never stopped."
Judy Wheeler, formerly of BookPeople, now owner of Towne Center Books: "I find myself quoting or 'channeling' Nicky in every sales rep visit. Her insight into what makes a good book for children has created quite a legacy with reps, booksellers and readers. She's already missed."
And Elaine Petrocelli of Book Passage said, "Nicky was a mentor to me and many others. Her knowledge and excitement about getting books into the hands of children and adults was inspiring. Watching her bustle around her tiny little store on Clement Street, I saw true one-on-one bookselling in action. Her opinions were strong and her enthusiasm was contagious."
Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, October 12, at 10 a.m. at Sinai Memorial Chapel, 1501 Divisadero St., San Francisco. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes contributions to the Nicky Salan Library Fund, Grattan School, 165 Grattan St., San Francisco, Calif. 94117, or donations to the charity of your choice.