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  • Writer's pictureJefferson Graham

Photowalk: to {pages} a Manhattan Beach bookstore

In ten years, I’ve watched store after store close up in my little small town of Manhattan Beach, California, victim to raising rents and not enough foot traffic to justify the higher pricing.

That includes everyone from Subway and Papyrus to mom and pop restaurants Old Venice, Shark’s Cove, Fonz’s, the stores: Udderly Perfect, Fresh Produce and way too many more.

So I consider it a major, incredible achievement that my friend Linda McLoughlin Figel pulled off a miracle. She told me in 2010 that she and some friends were starting a neighborhood bookstore in Manhattan Beach. We talked about how crazy that seemed, and she knew it, but she and partners Patty and Margot were determined to make a go of it.

Yet here we are ten years later, and {pages} a bookstore is celebrating its tenth birthday. On Tuesday, there’s \an author talk (Colum McCann) at noon. He’ll be discussing his latest novel, Apeirogon.

Amazon is great, and speaking as your favorite local tech fan, I love as much new technology as I can get my hands on. But I also hate the death of so many classic, local bookshops, from Dutton’s, Circus of Books and Sam: Johnson to Samuel French and Caravan in Los Angeles.

So I love the idea that I can walk to a downtown of restaurants, newsstands (yes, we have one in Manhattan Beach), two small grocers, clothing stores, a barber shop, a fabulous library, way too many real estate firms, and thankfully, a small, community bookstore where you can browse new releases (remember those days kids?), attend book clubs, author signings, meet your neighbors, talk about books, all the things that make the small stores so great.

Even better is that the community came out and supported Linda and Patty. (Margot has since left the business.) Instead of shopping Amazon, they paid higher prices at {pages} because they liked the service. They liked that {pages} was in their town.

pages a bookstore staff

The staff at the {pages} a bookstore in Manhattan Beach, California, a classic, small town full service bookstore

As it should be.

Wouldn’t it be great if the rest of Main Street across America had such luck?

For the 10th anniversary, I begged Linda to get in front of the camera and talk a bit about {pages} and tell how she and her friends did it. Be sure to click the above video to take a look. It’s a stretch from my usual “Photowalk” format, but I love the store and Linda, so go with me on this one.

People, she told me, “want a place to connect, and you can’t do that online and you can’t do that with digital books. Walking into a place where people share that love and smell books….is what keeps bookstores alive.”

One interesting side note about {pages} is how successful it’s been attracting big name authors to give talks at a little bookstore in a town of 35,000 people. Levar Burton (in conversation with James McBride,) is coming on April 1, and recently the store has played host to Ruth Reicl, Steve Lopez and Chris Erskine, and of course, Colum McCann will be there on Tuesday. (If you missed my 2012 appearance, I’m reprinting the photo. It’s one of my life highlights.)

Jefferson Graham @pages

Jefferson Graham plugs his Video Nation book at an author event at the {pages} a bookstore in Manhattan Beach

Let’s wish Linda, Patty and the gang at {pages} a big happy birthday! I look forward to the 20th in 2030!

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