Happy 10th birthday to {pages} a bookstore

Manhattan Beach bookstore defied the odds

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 Tuesday, {pages} a bookstore celebrates its tenth birthday, naturally, with 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.

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.

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’ll be happy to pass on a photo. It’s one of my life highlights.)

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

Tweet of the week

Speaking of my small-town, we have this little pier, and people seem to really like it. The good thing is, every time I photograph her, she usually looks a little different. Especially if I get some clouds in there.

Stompin’ at the Savoy

I enjoyed trying out Fender’s new “Stratacoustic” hybrid model this week on the old 1933 jazz standard, “Stompin’ at the Savoy.”

The Stratocaster, of course, is the guitar popularized by the likes of Buddy Holly and Eric Clapton, and this is Fender’s acoustic/electric version. Here I’m playing it acoustically. Some of the commenters on the Cake forum said they didn’t like the sound of the guitar, which threw me—I was pretty happy with it.

What do you think folks?


If you ever wanted to join me on a physical, analog Photowalk, here’s your chance. I’m leading the April 4th edition of the Flickr Worldwide Photowalk in (where else?) Manhattan Beach. I have 14 openings, as of today, and the cost is free. You can sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/flickr-worldwide-photowalk-tickets-98559250371

That’s a wrap for the newsletter! Don’t forget to stop in and say happy birthday this week to Linda, Patty and the gang at {pages}

Another plug: I have a new “magazine” on Flipboard, full of photos, tweets, articles, podcasts and more. It’s cool to have everything in one place. Check it out here: https://flipboard.com/@photowalks/jefferson-graham-8admd4ldz

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