Clarion Books editorial director Anne Hoppe wasn’t exaggerating when she observed that HarperCollins rep Katie McGarry’s “idea of a vacation is to go work at her local library, putting books directly into the hands of readers.”

McGarry loves books, she loves to read, she loves people, and she loves to talk—about books. And indeed, when she’s not traveling around her sales territory—Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and upstate New York—visiting indie bookstores, selling from the adult and children’s catalogs, she can be found at the Long Island Community Library, an all-volunteer year-round institution on a small island off the coast of Maine. McGarry chairs its board of trustees, heads the Friends of the LICL, and even staffs the circulation desk on summer weekends.“I feel so lucky to have a job where I get to talk about books to people who love them as much as I do,” she says.

McGarry has worked as a field rep for HarperCollins since January 3, when the company acquired her former employer, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She began repping in 1989—her original plan after graduating from college, she says, was to be an editor, but her roommate in Worcester, Mass., was a travel agent for Bantam Doubleday Dell and connected her with a sales manager there. McGarry was hired to rep accounts in Rhode Island.

“So there I was, 28 years old with a Buick Skylark, and I got free books in the mail every day,” McGarry recalls. “I’d stay up all night reading the books, until another rep told me, ‘You know, you don’t need to do that.’ ”

In the 33 years between that first job and her current position, McGarry has worked for a variety of publishers and imprints: Bantam Books of Canada, Random House Children’s Publishing, International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press (a division of McGraw Hill), World Book Encyclopaedia, Simon & Schuster, Workman Publishing, and HMH, where for 10 years she called on bookstores between Maine and Washington, D.C., logging close to 50,000 miles each year.

“This sales rep path for me has been so much fun,” she says. “I took a few jobs in-house in sales and marketing, but I didn’t like that, so I went right back out into the field. Selling books to indie bookstores is where I belong.”

McGarry does more than sell books to bookstore buyers and work to resolve any problems that might arise. She also acts as a conduit between indies in her territory and as a liaison between the publisher she represents and those bookstores.

“I’m responsible for making sure that the folks in marketing and publicity back in New York City or Boston or wherever know what’s going on in my region,” she says. “I see myself as a cheerleader, too. It’s my job to show indie bookstores in a wonderful shining light, just as they are.”

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