An Interview with the Owners of Book No Further in Roanoke, VA
Name: Doloris Vest and Craig Coker, owners
Store and Location: Book No Further, 16 Church Ave, SW, Roanoke, VA 24011
Number of years as a bookseller: Almost one as an owner and a couple of holiday seasons in the past.
Best part about being a bookseller: Talking books and trying to get the right book in the right hand.
What book(s) are you reading?: Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Fist by Sunil Yapa (the Roanoke Valley Reads pick) Chesapeake Requiem by Earl Swift.
Favorite handsell of 2018: Varina by Charles Frazier about Varina Davis, wife of confederate president Jefferson Davis. I pair it with Winnie Davis by Heath Lee, a wonderful biography of Varina and Jefferson’s youngest daughter covering the same time.
Best thing you did this year at your store: Got it open! ;-) Also, I am so glad we have been able to bring attention to the literary community that exists here and bring readers and writers together. Our most successful event was a talk with Liza Mundy, a Roanoke native, on her book Code Girls about women who broke German and Japanese codes in WWII. We’re expecting 100-plus for our event on September 5 with another Roanoker and Beth Macy, author of New York Times Bestseller Dopesick.
Social Media Stats: Our likes are essentially even with the used and chain bookstores in the area who have been open more than 20 years. One of our most popular social posts was of a visit by the Easter Bunny.
What are some ways you work with your community? Major emphasis in the store on local writers. We’re blessed with a large number of nationally published authors living in Western Virginia. Beth Macy, David Baldacci, Sharyn McCrumb, Diane Fanning, Leah Weiss and others. In our first 10 months we hosted 18 author talks for more than 30 authors, a number of special events including our Grand Opening, Small Business Saturday, Independent Bookstore Day as well as community events like MuggleFest, Spring Festival, Riot Rooster Makers Festival, Dickens of Christmas and others. We work with a lot of non-profits to offer books at their events where they otherwise wouldn’t have the resources, and generally donate some of the proceeds back to the organization, such as the Harrison Museum of African American History. My favorite activity is working with Blue Ridge Literacy. We give each new reader or ESL program completer a book of their choice.
Do you have any community partners you work with regularly? Book City Roanoke, which supports all thing literary in Western Virginia; We work closely with Downtown Roanoke Inc. to promote downtown retail of all kinds.
Do you have passions that carry over into your bookselling life? The most unusual thing is helping customers learn to knit or crochet. If a customer mentions trying to learn and having difficulty, I invite them to the store when it’s quiet and help them through the difficult parts.
Top priority for 2018: Getting established in the store itself, learning customer preferences, and building community awareness that there is an indie store in town.
Favorite SIBA programming benefit: Talking to all the booksellers and exchanging ideas. I’ve made great connections and have people I can call on for nearly any subject. Secondly, would be the webinars on a variety of topics. As the store’s only staff person I don’t always get to listen in, so I love that they are recorded and archived.