Tag Archives: One More Page

One More Page: A Community Bookstore

This month for Indie Thursday, I’m writing about Arlington’s One More Page Books & More, owned and operated by Eileen McGervey.

For Eileen McGervey, One More Page is not just a business; it’s a passion. She did enough research at the beginning to know that she wouldn’t make her fortune in bookselling. In fact, she eschews the idea. Her definition of success is simply “to be able to pay the bills” and keep the doors of her store open.

But perhaps McGervey isn’t giving herself enough credit. She’s done more than just keep her doors open; she’s created a community around the store. Author readings and wine tastings attract full houses, and the friendly staff at One More Page has introduced customers to countless new books, authors, and publishers.

The American Booksellers Association (ABA) reports that small businesses engaged in efforts like the “Buy Local” campaigns–as One More Page has–have discovered new customers and a loyal base of existing customers. Perhaps more importantly, these indie stores “have experienced markedly stronger revenue growth,” including a 5.2 percent increase in holiday sales reported last January, versus a 0.8 percent growth reported by stores who do not highlight their role in the community.

“One of the other things that really surprised me at the beginning was how supportive and helpful all the other indie booksellers were,” McGervey says. Before the store opened, McGervey met with the owners of Politics & Prose, who helped her with her business plan and offered advice on running a bookstore. “That would be unheard-of in my previous career,” McGervey exclaims.

Independent bookstores offer more than just an event space or a place to buy the book you’ve been looking for, McGervey says. Most of the customers who come through her doors are not looking for a specific book. “They don’t have in their head what they want,” McGervey explains:

They want to browse. They wanna see what’s out, wanna talk to somebody. They just want something different. Or something similar to what they’ve read, but not the same author. And that’s the beauty of a physical store.

A large part of Eileen McGervey’s good cheer comes from the overwhelming support she has received from the community. “Customers just come in and tell us how they’re going to do anything they can to make sure we succeed. I never would have expected that,” she admits.

“You think, ‘OK, this is my dream, but how many other people feel committed to making it succeed?’” she says. The answer, as it turns out, is many. “There’s definitely a spirit banding people together.”

Want to learn more about One More Page? Check out my previous posts or visit the store yourself!

One More Page: Meeting Carolyn Parkhurst

This month for Indie Thursday, I’m writing about Arlington’s One More Page Books & More, owned and operated by Eileen McGervey.

I’ve staked out a folding chair on the cleared sales floor of One More Page. A few rows up, Carolyn Parkhurst is arranging sundry items on the table: a hat, a t-shirt, a framed picture of herself. These items appeared in Parkhurst’s promotional video for her latest book, The Nobodies Album—possibly the funniest book trailer ever.

Of the video, she jokes, “I’ve gotta find some way to get people to buy my books, and it’s better if you can involve humor and self-deprecation.”

Eileen McGervey, standing nearby, tells Carolyn that she always coordinates sales with author events and she jokes, “I have a feeling yours is going to be a wine crowd.”

In case you didn’t know, Parkhurst is one of my favorite authors, and I’m squirming in my chair with fangirl excitement.

Parkhurst begins reading a selection from The Nobodies Album, and then she fields questions. Of particular interest to me was her writing process. She writes her novels in order, from beginning to end, she says. Interestingly, Parkhurst revealed that she thought she knew who the murderer was throughout most of The Nobodies Album, but at the end, she changed it.

Book promotion has changed quite a bit since her first book came out in 2003, she says. The onus is on the author to engage potential readers, both through new media—social networks, blogs, and so forth—and through in-person appearances like this event at One More Page.

She begins raffling off her book-trailer swag for free to the audience. Her daughter claimed the embroidered throw pillow emblazoned with a rave review of one of Parkhurst’s books. “What are guests going to think of me when they see this in my house?” Parkhurst says with her signature dry wit.

I bring my copy of The Nobodies Album up to Carolyn to sign. “I’m the one who said I’m such a big fan, you’re going to file a restraining order!” I say by way of introduction. Instead of producing one, though, Parkhurst laughs and signs my copy of her book. “No restraining orders needed,” she writes on the title page.

Customers begin lining up to buy copies of Parkhurst’s three novels. Eileen  McGervey stands to the side of the counter, surveying the full house.

Stay tuned for one more post this month about the community that has sprung up around One More Page.

One More Page: Chocolate and Wine

Eileen McGervey is preparing for a varietal wine tasting at One More Page Books & More. Wine and chocolate make up the “More.”

She moves through the store, adjusting books on the shelves, moving chairs and tables back into place, and carefully arranging wine glasses on a table. “This is the side of bookselling they don’t tell you about,” she says with one of her un-self-conscious laughs.

Bars of gourmet chocolate neatly line a table in front of the register. Orange peel, ginger, even bacon chocolates beckon. I quickly add a few bars to the books I’ve set on the counter.

The idea to sell wine and chocolate came from a business consultant who told McGervey simply, “It’d be good to diversify.” Many customers first enter the store looking for these “sideline items,” she explains, but they stay to buy books. “It is diversifying your revenue stream,” she says, “but it also gives people more reasons to come in the store.”

She turns to a nearby customer and invites her to stay for the wine tasting, which will begin in a few minutes. The customer says, “I was surprised to see this here, actually; I wasn’t looking for wine.” She stays for the tasting, swirling wine in a glass and listening attentively to its vintners.

“The wine and chocolate are also good conversation starters,” McGervey tells me. “You get them in, and then you get to talk to them about the other things.” Like books.

Todd Kliman, author of Wild Vine, doesn’t seem surprised by the convergence of literature and fine wine. He’s here, standing next to a stack of his books; he’s attending not as a speaker but as a wine connoisseur. (I sneak up to him at the end, anyway, and ask him to sign my copy of his book.)

As customers line up to purchase wine, chocolate, and of course books, McGervey finally slows her frenetic pace. She leans against the counter, surveying the line of chatting customers, and her face relaxes into an easy smile.

Stay tuned for more Indie Thursday posts this month about One More Page Books & More, including author events at the bookstore and how the community has reacted to the new store.

One More Page: Starting a Bookstore in a Recession

Welcome to Indie Thursday, a new-to-me feature where I profile one local bookstore a month. (Indie Thursday is a meme begun by Jenn’s Bookshelves to celebrate local authors and booksellers.) This month, I’ll be writing about Arlington’s One More Page Books & More, owned and operated by Eileen McGervey.

“I am not crazy,” Eileen McGervey says.

Dressed in a soft pink sweater, black stretch pants, and sneakers, she never seems to stop moving; she pushes her short, curly hair out of her eyes as she scoots a table and chairs into a corner of the room. She’s preparing for an author event.

A short walk away from the East Falls Church metro, One More Page joined restaurants and bars located in new condominium complexes in a burgeoning Northern Virginia neighborhood in January 2011.

“People come in and say”—McGervey affects a soft, polite whisper—“‘Wow, I can’t believe you’re doing this.’ They’re kind of half-happy that you did it but half-think that you’re crazy.” And she’s not, she insists.

Sure, McGervey opened the store in the middle of a recession. Yes, other bookstores—from local favorites like Olsson’s, Lambda Rising, and Trover Shop to enormous chains like Borders—have recently folded after decades of business. And make no mistake; the online giant Amazon shows no signs of slowing its rapid takeover of media sales. Added to all that: This is McGervey’s first job in retail.

So it’s easy to see why residents of Arlington, Va., are surprised to see a new bookstore open with a retail newbie at the helm. Yet McGervey remains optimistic.

And she has reason to be. Despite doom-and-gloom predictions about the uncertain future of books, all bookstore sales of new books increased by an average of 2.8 percent last year, while sales in the same period for independent booksellers rose by 7 percent.

Sounds more like a victory march than a death knell.

Stay tuned for more posts this month about One More Page Books & More, including how McGervey supports local authors, why she sells wine and chocolate, and how the community has reacted to their latest bookseller.

Top Ten Books on My Spring To-Be-Read List

Spring is in the air in D.C. As the season changes, of course my mind turns to books, books, and more books. Here are a few I’m planning to read over the next few weeks–hopefully outside, in the shade of a blossoming tree!

10. More Like Her by Liza Palmer
From the cover:

Sometimes the golden dream you fervently wish for turns out to be not at all what it seems–like Emma Dunham’s enviable suburban postcard life, which is about to be brutally cut short by a perfect husband turned killer. And in the shocking aftermath, three devastated friends, Frances, Lisa, and Jill, are going to have to come to terms with their own secrets . . . and somehow learn to move forward after their dream is exposed as a lie.

I’ve been wanting to read more female authors, and the premise of this book is fascinating. It sounds rather different from the standard chick-lit novel (if such a standard exists).

9. Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
The first book in C. S. Lewis’s acclaimed Space Trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet begins the adventures of Dr. Ransom, who is abducted via spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra. Out of the Silent Planet is not my typical kind of book, but I have a strange fascination with C.S. Lewis. Also, my brother received this trilogy for Christmas as a kid, and he still counts them among his favorite books.

8. Butterfly’s Child by Angela Davis-Gardner
From the cover:

When three-year-old Benji is plucked from the security of his home in Nagasaki to live with his American father, Lt. Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, and stepmother, Kate, on their farm in Illinois, the family conceals Benji’s true identity as a child born from a liaison between an officer and a geisha—and instead tells everyone that he is an orphan. When the truth surfaces, it will splinter this family’s fragile dynamic and send Benji on the journey of a lifetime from Illinois to the Japanese settlements in Denver and San Francisco, then across the ocean to Nagasaki, where he will uncover the truth about his mother’s tragic death.

Also, this book features a blurb from Jennifer Egan. ‘Nuff said.

7. Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Kamila Sidiqi’s life changed drastically when the Taliban seized control of the city of Kabul. Kamila, a teacher, was banned from school and confined to her home, but in the face of despair, she created a thriving dressmaking business. This is a true story of one extraordinary woman in Afghanistan who proves that Afghan women are not victims; they are the backbone and the heart of their nation.

6. Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty
From the cover:

After the death of Laura’s nine-year-old daughter, Betty, is ruled an accident in a hit-and-run, Laura decides to take revenge into her own hands, determined to track down the man responsible. All the while, her inner turmoil is reopening the old wounds of her passionate love affair with Betty’s father, David, and his abandonment of the family for another woman.

This book was a finalist for my beloved Orange Prize; need I say more?

5. Maui Revealed by Andrew Doughty
In case you missed it, I’ll be heading to Maui in a few short months. When I started doing research on where to go and what to see, this book was mentioned again and again. One Maui resident said that locals are authorized to shoot the author on sight for giving away all their secrets; sounds like a great guidebook to me! (Andrew Doughty is presumably of no relation to Louise Doughty, mentioned above; but it would be interesting if he were!)

4. Red Nails, Black Skates: Gender, Cash, and Pleasure on and Off the Ice by Erica Rand
Erica Rand was a forty-something art history professor when she bought a pair of figure skates to vary her workout routine. Within a few years, she was immersed in the world of adult figure skating. Rand, a queer femme, describes her mixed feelings about participating in a sport with heterosexual storylines and rigid standards about gender appropriate costumes and moves. Though this book is more academic than my usual read, I’m a huge fan of figure skating and can’t wait to read about Rand’s experiences and insight.

3. Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton
“No one is above suspicion when a cozy scenario of suburban family accord morphs into a full-throttle psychological thriller, ring-fenced by a mother’s love,” writes Kirkus Reviews. Lupton is the author of the New York Times bestseller Sister, and I’ve heard wonderful things about this book, now in paperback.

2. Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
I recently wrapped up the first Maisie Dobbs book by Jacqueline Winspear, and I loved it. Maisie is a brilliant but empathetic (and sympathetic) character, and I can’t wait to read the next books in the series, starting with Birds of a Feather.

1. Faces of the Gone by Brad Parks
I just discovered local author Brad Parks last night, and then I found out that he will soon be visiting some of my favorite local bookshops, including One More Page and Novel Books! I’ve got to make up for lost time by reading this series ASAP.

What about you–what are reading this lovely spring?

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each Tuesday, bloggers create top ten lists about reading, writing, blogging, and more!

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