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Books

In Manhattan Beach, {pages} bookstore thrives on community

Starting young readers early at {pages}
Starting young readers early at {pages}
(Ivan Kashinsky/For the Times)

Above the bookshelves that house the genres that any bookstore should have — fiction, nonfiction, children’s — are quotes from authors such as “Read, read, read,” from William Faulkner and “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents,” from Emilie Buchwald.

The latter is fitting for the blue walls of {pages} a bookstore in Manhattan Beach: The four owners met mostly through their children, who played baseball together and attended the same schools.

“We’re all Manhattan Beach moms who raised our kids with a lot of books,” co-owner Linda McLoughlin Figel said on a weekday afternoon at the store. She and co-owner Patty Gibson go back even further — they started a book club together 20 years ago.

Launched in the age of Amazon, Pages bookstore is thriving in Manhattan Beach.
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They opened their bookstore in 2010. As an independent physical bookstore in the heyday of Amazon and e-books, rather than waiting for customers to discover {pages}, the owners are all about bringing people in with events and book clubs.

On Thursday Aug. 11, sports media personality Colin Cowherd, a controversial figure with more than a million Twitter followers, answered questions from attendees about his new book, “Raw: My 100% Grade-A, Unfiltered, Inside Look at Sports,” his Fox Sports radio show, “The Herd With Colin Cowherd” and his life.

Katie Sneathem had never stepped foot in {pages}, but came because her son is a sports fan and she had to get Cowherd’s signature.
 

Sports radio personality Colin Cowherd at {pages}
Sports radio personality Colin Cowherd at {pages}
(Ivan Kashinsky/For the Times )

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Also at the event were married couple Carol and Larry Schoenfeld, who have lived in Manhattan Beach for “thousands of years,” Carol joked. They’ve been coming to the bookstore since it opened.

When McLoughlin Figel, Gibson and co-owner Margot Farris decided to open a bookstore back in 2008, they knew they wanted to be in the downtown area in Manhattan Beach.

“It screamed that it needed a bookstore, and we felt that this community could support a bookstore,” Farris said.

But 2008 proved not to be the best time to start a business. The space where {pages} is now was open but not affordable, McLoughlin Figel said. “Fast-forward two years. The market had changed, the whole canvas had changed, and we were able to do it,” she said.

When {pages} opened in March 2010, about 50 people showed up to eat bagels, drink coffee and help decorate the store window with papier-mâché. Even now, their friends volunteer to help out for events, such as the book fairs.

At first, the owners had two things in common — they all loved books and none of them knew how to run a bookstore.

The latter is something they’ve learned along the way. McLoughlin Figel does most of the book-buying and handles the finances, Gibson, who McLoughlin Figel called the “muse” behind the store, is the expert on book recommendations and the curator of the small space. Farris organizes events, writes the newsletter and manages the website. Sunni Won, who stepped in as a fourth co-owner three years ago, has strengths in efficiency and processing, having worked at IBM and Microsoft. Now, she runs the bookstore’s book fair business, where she organizes mini {pages} at the elementary and middle schools around Manhattan Beach.

On Mondays, a group of preschoolers meet for book club. “That’s a way to start them off loving books,” Farris said.

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In the age of social media, children are exposed to so much technology and information. That’s why it’s more important than ever to get them to read books, according to McLoughlin Figel.

“Instead of being externally stimulated, it’s a way to stimulate themselves,” she said.

And it makes sense on a business level, McLoughlin Figel explained, creating a relationship with families. Those kids’ parents come to {pages} when there’s a book they want or they have a birthday gift to buy.

Awaiting them will be stacks of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the latest Potter book, displayed in all its glory.

{pages} is just blocks from the beach
{pages} is just blocks from the beach
(Ivan Kashinsky/For the Times )

Alex.Golden@latimes.com

Twitter: @alexgoldennews


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