inStore: One More Page
In 2011, the greater Washington DC area said goodbye to a number of bookstores, but around that time, One More Page opened its doors and people in the area have warmly embraced the newcomer.
However, owner Eileen McGervey knows that one cannot run a business on goodwill alone. McGervey spoke of the need for an independent bookstore to be flexible. “Being a traditional bookseller is not necessarily going to work in this environment.” This is why One More Page does not only sells books; the store has a section dedicated to wine and chocolate that McGervey likes to refer to as “the decadent corner.”
She also knew she needed a location with foot traffic because she couldn’t depend on people driving to the store. “I’m fairly pragmatic about it. If you get in your car to go somewhere, you’re going to go anywhere.”
One More Page is not too far from the East Falls Church Metro station. Plus, there are apartments and condos nearby, an established restaurant across the street, and a new restaurant opening next door. To illustrate the importance of foot traffic, McGervey says sometimes people who get haircuts at a nearby salon stop in for books.
McGervey says her background is not in books and that she was a marketing consultant for hi-tech companies. She thinks this background helps her when it comes to things like managing the inventory system.
When she got the opportunity to go to a bookseller boot camp conducted by Paz and Associates and sponsored by the American Booksellers Association (ABA), she went for it. The camp lasted a week and topics included things like negotiating a lease and inventory systems. She says there wasn’t a wasted session during that week and as someone who went to a lot of training sessions, that’s saying a lot.
McGervey and her staff divide up the social media duties. Some of the staff already had book blogs and Twitter feeds before they worked at the store, but McGervey really got into social media when she started the store. She handles the store’s Twitter account (@justonemorepage) and a staff member runs the store’s Tumblr page. “It has amazed me,” says McGervey. “The whole social media aspect of it—people finding out about the store online and the way Twitter allows us to connect with authors.”
It also helps sales. Customers send tweets to request that books to be put aside or to ask if a book is available. McGervey says she didn’t establish the social media network as a place for queries; the store’s media-savvy customers just started doing this.
“We do a lot of special orders for people,” she says. “There’s a warehouse nearby so we can get a lot of things the next day.”
Before opening her store, McGervey made a point to get in contact with a book blogger who ran a book club at [now-defunct] Borders Books. This was a smart move because getting that blogger interested meant having a champion early on.
She also says that a lot of customer referrals are communicated via blogs and twitter feeds.
One author saw that a writer friend was doing an event at One More Page and tweeted interest in joining so that online exchange led to an event with two authors.
Harper Collins also chose the store as the location for an event where a Baltimore author came to the store to meet local bloggers prior to a books publication to build buzz.
McGervey says that in the future she’d like to have an author Skype with an in-store book club.
What’s Popular in Arlington
“After the first two weeks here, we saw that people do not come here to buy the bestsellers. We had them and ended up sending them all back.” [Publishing is one of the few businesses where retailers can send products back if they don’t sell.]
“I’d say 50-60% of readers don’t go to bookstores knowing what they want. That makes it more fun for us,” says McGervey.
The Poisoner’s Handbook has sold surprisingly well at One More Page. “It worries me that so many people in Arlington have purchased that book,” McGervey says, laughing. But lest the title cause you too much concern, she adds that the book is about a toxicologist and science/detective work.
McGervey says the store’s list of its top 20 books is nothing at all like anyone else’s and that part of this relates to what the store choses to feature.
Featuring local authors
The store has a section dedicated to local authors like Richard Thompson (of Cul de Sac fame) and Nick Galifianakis, Washington Post writers who’ve written books, and books from the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime.
McGervey says the best way to feature people in the store is to do events that the author and the store promotes.
What makes the store special
McGervey says, “Our staff. They are way more knowledgeable about books than I am. They come from bookselling backgrounds.” Some of her staff used to work at Aladdin’s Lamp Children’s Books.
She also says that customers are very into community and there is amazing camaraderie between people who frequent the store. They’ll e-mail each other about events and urge other to go the store.
Sometimes customers even worry about taking the last copy of a book, either asking staff if it’s okay or informing them that they are almost out.
The store also sells wine, chocolate and specialty novelty items like the Henry’s Catsup that was once served at an Arlington burger joint and matchbooks decorated with first edition book covers.
The store has five book clubs, including one for children (4th grade and up) and may do more. With the exception of one outside book club, the store runs the book clubs.
McGervey says people should come and enjoy author events even if they haven’t read the book. Sometimes you can go to a book club to decide whether or not to buy the book. She’d rather have more people there hear the author.
The store has also wine tastings and tastings where chocolate is paired with wine. McGervey notes that some of their chocolates are unusual, so you’d want to taste them before buying them. And some wine tastings come with a bonus: giveaways of ARCS (Advanced Readers’ Copies).
Note: According to the One Page More website, the adorable canine pictured with this article is Sandy the Weimareader. She is “a well-read Weimaraner with an affinity for historical fiction, Argentine poetry, and David Sedaris. She has become a champion for independent bookstores and is currently the resident canine literary consultant for One More Page.”