By: M.T. Decker
Photos By: Josh Triggs
Located at 18 N. Main Street in Boonsboro, Maryland, “Turn the Page” is anything but your typical bookstore. Family owned and operated for 21 years, Turn the Page is an independent bookstore, with strong ties to the community of Boonsboro.
Owned and operated by Bruce Wilder, the bookstore focuses on novels by Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb; but, they also carry books by local authors and books about local historical sites.
The store includes custom printed ‘green’ cards, Nora Roberts related souvenirs and collectibles. They also support local businesses and artisans selling scented oils, soaps and soy candles that have been specifically designed for their customers, or based on Nora Roberts’ characters. The people at Turn the Page’ have worked hard to build a relationship not only with the town of Boonsboro, but with Nora Roberts fans world wide.
When I arrived at the bookstore, they were in the process of getting ready for a book signing, one of the six they hold every year. This book signing event marks their 9th annual book signing, and people have been coming from all over the country to connect, not only with their favorite authors, but with other book lovers.”It’s a low key weekend,” Janeen Solberg, manager of Turn the Page explains. People will come early, opt to stay in the area and make a vacation of it.
“With the shops and local historical sites, there is never a lack of something to do. Some visitors opt to stay at the Inn Boonsboro and will visit historical sites in nearby Shepherdstown, Harper’s Ferry and Antietam.
The store itself is welcoming, and the staff is quick to greet customers. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the scent of honeysuckle, combined with patchouli, fresh coffee and new books. The scents help to create something magical that you can only get in a small, family run shop.
This atmosphere only serves to enhance the experience. That feeling, that sense of connection, is something you can only get in a physical book store and it is something the folks at ‘Turn the Page’ are very proud of.
Janeen admits that connection is something they’ve worked hard to establish, both in the store and online, through their Facebook page and website.
Their Facebook page is active and between it, Nora’s blog, and newsletters, there is a relationship that makes ‘Turn the Page’ more than just a book store. It is part of the community not only on-line, but in Boonsboro itself.
“It’s not uncommon for customers to come in and resume a conversation they started on-line,” she says, pointing out how much social media has actually helped the store. And while the store specializes in books by Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, they also carry books by local writers, photography by owner Bruce Wilder, as well as hand crafted gifts, jewelry, scented oils & soaps and pottery.
One artist actually walked into the shop and showed them jewelry that had been inspired by characters in Nora’s books. That Jewelry is now on display and available to purchase.
It is this sort of community that makes Turn the Page, something special. It celebrates local artists and donates to the local teams and fundraisers. It also celebrates the community by running events throughout the year for customers and the people of Boonsboro.
In addition to the book signings, Turn the Page sponsors two book clubs with a third slated to start, in September.
They are active in the community and part of Boonsboro’s semi annual ‘girls night out.’ They offer hand massages, palm readings, as well as hosting guest authors.
In addition to local history and local writers, Turn the Page also carries a selection of books for the book club. Then there is ‘The Nora Room.’ The Nora room features copies of every Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb book that is still in print, including the 2014 ‘Inn Boonsboro’ trilogy, which is featured prominently in the room.
This trilogy, based on Inn Boonsboro, features not only Inn Boonsboro, but the town and businesses themselves. Janeen smiled as she showed me the display, complete with the custom scents designed for the Inn. “We actually got a call from a reader who was surprised to find out we were ‘really-real.'”
“More often than not, writers write about a fictitious place. Here, the town is real, but the characters are made up!”
As an independent bookstore, the people at Turn the Page, know they can’t offer the volume discounts that on-line bookstores offer, so they focus on what they can give their customers: a relationship not only with the books they love, but with like minded people.
You only have to stop by their Facebook page and see how happy people are to come to the store, after working on-line with them for so long. They must be doing something right, since customers from all over the world are buying books from the store.
Customers can request signed books three nights a week; Nora signs those books so they can be shipped across the country and around the world.
This customization and attention to detail, is what makes Turn the Page something special. According to Janeen, their customers run the gambit from Nora Roberts fans, to people who have never read one of her books. “We’ve had people pick up a book from a new author at one of the signings, then call back asking for more.”
There are an average of 6 signings a year, but the July signing is the 9th anniversary of their first. To keep things running smoothly and to make sure the customer gets the most of the day, tickets are issued to make sure everyone has a chance to get to meet the author.
Another interesting tradition is a signed tote that remains at the store throughout the year. Each author who comes to ‘Turn the Page,’ signs the tote; at the annual signing, it is given away to one lucky customer. Turn the Page is more than just a bookstore: it is a place where people can meet and discuss their love of books. They can catch up on new romance novels, and interact with their community.
While technology has done many wonderful things for us (digital libraries are making books more and more accessible) it still can’t give you that one-on-one relationship you get when working with a small, independent bookstore.
“We get too much screen time,” Janeen points out. “You deal with computers all day at work… but a book is a treat.”
And she’s right. Books are something tangible, something special; they offer us escape and adventure, but they also offer us the chance to go somewhere special and venture into places, we might otherwise miss. Somewhere like downtown Boonsboro, for example! Turn the Page bookstore is available on-line at www.ttpbooks.com or at 18 N. Main Boonsboro, MD.
You can find them on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/ttpbooks and as Janeen said, “Check back often. We’re always adding events.”