Taking Note with Zibby Owens - Ordinary Habit

Taking Note with Zibby Owens

Taking Note with Zibby Owens - Ordinary Habit

In honor of our journal, For Now, we’re spotlighting creatives who take note of—and celebrate—the ordinary things in life. In our latest installment, we hear from the publishing mogul Zibby Owens.

Take note of Zibby Owens's career trajectory, and you'll find a clear through-line: storytelling. From podcasting to publishing to running an independent bookstore, Owens has become a champion for all things books—and has even penned a few herself, including her forthcoming debut novel.

Despite the intensity of Owens's days, the multi-hyphenate has learned to channel this energy to, in her words, just go. "Sometimes, I try ideas—on the page, in my business—and they don’t end up working," she explained in our interview. "I take all that data and use it for my next endeavor."

No matter what direction her work seems to take, Owens leads with determination and intention, which, in turn, sets an inspiring tone for her community of readers and authors. Below, Owens shares musings on ordinary habits, motherhood, and writing resolutions.

Aside from reading and writing, what ordinary habits best capture your essence or identity?

Racing to school pick-up and bringing home groups of kids most days.

Zibby Bookshop

From podcasting to publishing to events, so much goes into your work. We’d love to know more about your experience opening Zibby’s Bookshop in Santa Monica, California. What have you noticed about how people engage with books in person?

How does running an indie bookstore help you pay attention to the little things?
Zibby’s Bookshop was a lifelong dream of mine, but it ended up happening by accident. I have a home in the Palisades. When the big Amazon store closed, my husband suggested I take over the space. On a lark, I called the broker, who said that it wasn’t available but that he had a fantastic space over in Montana. I resisted for a while, but when I saw it, I knew it could be amazing.

I teamed up with Diana Tramontano and Sherri Puzey from my Zibby Media team. We came up with a long list of clever categories so the shop could be curated by feeling, by interest, and by a unique sorting method that I’m now called Zibbacle. (Patent-pending!) People come in looking for something vague but longing for a sense of connection—to a new book, a new experience, a new friend. They are warm, open, and welcoming. It has really restored my faith in the kindness of strangers.

Tell us a bit about your writing process and how it’s evolved. When do you know an idea is ready for—or worthy of—the page?

I have to write much, much quicker now with four kids and a lot of business lines. I don’t spend time pre-planning. I just go. Sometimes, I try ideas—on the page, in my business—and they don’t end up working. I take all that data and use it for my next endeavor. When I can’t stop thinking about something, and I can literally see it in my head, I know it’s almost fully baked.

Zibby reading to children

How do you engage your children in reading or writing? Do you think it’s important to encourage kids to start a journaling habit?

We go to bookstores almost every weekend. They meet all my authors and hear about all my publishing plans. They give input on titles and covers and everything else. Plus, I really encourage their writing—which happens to be fabulous! I think journaling is great for some kids, but not everyone takes to it. You really have to make it a habit.

As we look to 2024, what are some of your reading or writing resolutions?
I want to read more books slowly, start to finish, instead of always rushing and skimming. I want to write more fiction and a middle-grade novel. When I write from the heart, it helps open up everything—even other people.


If you could read any fictional character’s journal, who would it be? More of Bridget Jones’s!

What three words best describe your childhood journal or writing? Sporadic. Funny. Open.

The book that made you a reader: Charlotte’s Web.

The book that made you a writer: Slow Motion by Dani Shapiro.

What is your ideal journaling environment? A beautiful spa looking over a lake or something. But that is not in the cards (haha).

What journaling prompt would you give to the Ordinary Habit community? Start with: Here’s something I’ve never said out loud.