One More Page Books in Arlington, Va., has won a $9,000 grant from bestselling novelist James Patterson. The store is one of 81 independent bookstores named this morning in the third and final round of donations from Patterson, who has given more than $1 million to 178 bookstores this year.
One More Page, which opened in 2011, applied to Patterson’s “Saving Bookstores, Saving Lives” campaign to help take its business “on the road” to sites around Arlington and the greater Washington area. The store wants to offer books and literary events to neighborhoods with lots of children.
In her proposal, store owner Eileen McGervey wrote, “Our dream is to have a vehicle (similar to a food truck) that is clearly identifiable as the mobile bookstore and that allows us to provide and display a larger number of books. Especially with children’s books, the ability to see and look at books is critical to getting them to pick one up. This truck will serve as a marketing tool and also as the central spot for our off-site activities.”
McGervey and her events coordinator, Terry Nebeker (“the author whisperer”), started thinking about a mobile store after holding events at libraries, schools, hotels and offices. This summer, One More Page set up a temporary store at the Mosaic District in Fairfax, Va., in conjunction with the launch of Patterson’s middle-school book “Save Rafe.” “There was a lot of interest,” McGervey says, “but we realized that the amount of work required to haul and set up all the furniture and books made it impractical for us to do on a regular basis, so we were looking for a better way.”
Using the money from Patterson, McGervey plans to buy a used vehicle and retrofit it to transport about 500 books. She plans to start with one or two days a week on the road. She also is thinking about establishing a schedule of regular stops and coordinating with book clubs that meet at certain apartment buildings and restaurants. Visits from the One More Page mobile might center around book-related games for children or an author talk.
In a way, this was a natural idea for McGervey to pursue. Her first job was working on a bookmobile. “I grew up in an area that was moving from rural to suburban, and there was not yet a public library in our community,” she says. “Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh had a fleet of bookmobiles and sent one every Tuesday to a shopping center near my house. Adults and kids crammed onto that bus every week for a few hours, and it was my special thrill to be there shelving books. It was heaven.”
Patterson, 67, is one of the most successful novelists ever. Forbes recently estimated that he has earned $680 million in the past 10 years. He also has been a powerful advocate for books, independent bookstores and literacy programs — and a vocal critic of Amazon during its recently resolved battle with Hachette. By all accounts, he’s indefatigable. A profile in the January 2015 issue of Vanity Fair quotes Patterson joking that his obituary will begin, “He was slowing down at 101, and had only finished four novels that year.”
In a statement Sunday morning announcing the grants, Patterson said, “Here’s to a joyful holiday season for booksellers everywhere. Yes, joyful! Here’s to more parents and grandparents coming to their senses and giving their kids books — yes, books — for Christmas and other holidays. Here’s to local governments waking up to the fact that bookstores and libraries are essential to our way of life. Here’s to media coverage of books, booksellers, and publishers, and to a wiser, more literate America.”
Here’s to you, Mr. Patterson.