Chance encounters have been major players in Dawn Davis’s life. A random meeting on a plane introduced her to publishing, the industry she has worked in for over 25 years. A long weekend on the Vineyard led to buying a house on East Chop. An on-the-fly author reading in a public library turned into an annual literary brunch at Lola’s.

Ms. Davis, a New York publisher and founder of Simon & Schuster imprint 37 INK, published Pulitzer-prize winning novel The Known World by Edward P. Jones when she worked at Random House imprint Amistad. She grew up in Los Angeles, Calif. as an only child and avid reader. Her mother took her on weekly trips to the library where each would wander off and meet up 30 minutes later with a pile of books in their arms. She remembered immersing herself in Beloved, Their Eyes Were Watching God, 100 Years of Solitude and books by Chinua Achebe.

“You can leave your own space by reading, you can travel in your mind and imagination,” Ms. Davis said. “I really love it, and my mother nourished it.”

As a young woman, while traveling to Nigeria on a Rotary Scholarship to study literature, Ms. Davis met a woman who worked in publishing. She doesn’t always talk to people on planes, but that day it paid off. It was that moment she found out that she could be paid to read.

For the past six years, Ms. Davis has organized an authors' brunch at Lola's — Jeanna Shepard

“That was the most serendipitous meeting on a plane that I’ve ever had, absolutely,” she said.

Ms. Davis first visited the Vineyard with some friends for a long weekend. The next summer the group returned for an extended stay. Five years ago, she and her husband, two sons and mother committed to a full month on the Vineyard. In 2014, they bought a house in East Chop.

While on vacation, Ms. Davis is constantly reading while lounging on her favorite beach (Long Point). She’s mostly reading for work, but also for fun.

“I’ve trained myself to turn off the editor switch,” she said. “In the beginning, I couldn’t. But the books I’m reading now I have so little time and they are so finely edited and so beautifully published that I generally just relax.”

Right now she is reading My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante and When Breathe Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Both books were bought from the Island bookstores.

Many years ago, during her first two-week vacation on the Vineyard, Ms. Davis was with an author whose friend arranged a reading at a library using just Twitter. So many people showed up it was standing room only.

“I thought, if you could do that with a couple hours notice or a couple days notice, surely we could do something really great if we put a little thought behind it and organized it,” she said.

This year's brunch featured Walter Mosley, Pat Cleveland and LaShonda Katrice Barnett. — Jeanna Shepard

So, for six years now, on the third Saturday of August, she has organized an authors’ brunch. This August the authors were Walter Mosley, LaShonda Katrice Barnett and Pat Cleveland.

She is heartened by the overwhelming response to book-themed events on the Vineyard.

“Every book event that I’ve been to has been so well attended, and as a book publisher it’s one of the reasons you stay in the business, because you know there are people who are hungry for information, hungry for literature,” she said. “I wish all my colleagues could see that on a summer day, on a summer night, where there is so much to do, how many people come out for books.”

That powerful response to books is something she wanted to harness and focus. As a publisher in the industry for over 25 years, Ms. Davis knows that how well a book does in its first week often indicates if it will succeed or not. To capitalize on the power of book buyers, she created the Inkwell Book Club. Named for the famous Oak Bluffs beach as well as a reference to publishing itself, the book club is an online initiative where members agree to buy specific books on a specific day three times a year. She hopes to reach 3,000 members; right now there are 700 signed up.

“What I wanted to do was to create a force, an organic force where we can support authors in a way that sends a signal to the selling community that we are here and that we are organized and care about books,” she said.

The book club focuses primarily on books written by black authors or that resonate with the black community. It started with Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae, followed by Walking with the Muse by Pat Cleveland, one of the first models of color to break through the fashion industry.

Diversity has been a subject of discussion in the publishing world for a long time.

“We’ve been talking about it for as long as I’ve been in the industry and I think it’s a very slow moving saga,” Ms. Davis said. “I don’t think any one of us would say we’ve done as well as we’d hoped by now, but it’s getting better bit by bit...I think we’re in a season where we are showing books by black writers sell and can find their audience.”

Efforts like the Inkwell Book Club help. By focusing readers on buying one book all at once, the book’s chance of success increases.

“Everybody will go to a mix of their independents [bookstores], Barnes and Noble and Amazon and really support the books en masse, because then you have a better chance of getting on the New York Times bestseller list. You have a better chance of getting good position in the bookstore itself,” she said. “That’s the goal, to let book readers know that they can empower authors and they can have an influence in the market place.”

Bestseller lists work by velocity by week. She equates it to the opening week for movies. But although timing does make a difference, it is still really all about the books.

“The most important thing is that you read, whether you get it from a library or borrow it from a friend,” she said. “That is the most important thing, that the book is read.”

To learn more about the Inkwell Book Club, visit The next book will be announced in September.