Map of NC

Map of NC

March 9, 2022

An Interview with Dog-Eared Books

In honor of Women's History Month, the NC Literary Map had the opportunity to interview a female-owned online bookstore that is located in Raleigh, NC. Dog-Eared Books was co-founded and owned by Stephanie Stegemoller. In interviewing Stephanie, she shows flexibility, determination, and creativity independent bookstore owners have in the face of the COVD-19 pandemic.

1. Why do you think the North Carolina Literary Map is important for bookstores?

    North Carolina Literary Map is important for bookstores because it's another avenue for customers to find independent bookstores to support. 

2.  Tell us more about your store, including its history and location.  Why did you choose North Carolina?

    My friend Caitlynne and I (Stephanie) started Dog-Eared Books in Raleigh in the spare bedroom of her house, in August 2016. We sold on Amazon and went to the NC Fairgrounds once a month selling books for $1 to build our social media presence. In April 2017, we opened our brick-and-mortar. During COVID, we had to close our brick-and-mortar, but started selling books on our own website Caitlynne left the business in December 2021. Our brick-and-mortar is still closed, but we sell online through our website, Amazon, Biblio, Bookshop, and Libro. Orders can be picked up or shipped nationwide. 

3. What is unique about your bookstore? Also, what types of books does your store stock and specialize in?

Our bookstore is women-owned and operated. We're exclusively an online seller with thousands of titles on our website, Amazon, and Biblio. All orders placed through these avenues are picked, packaged, and shipped by members of our team. Our most popular sections are adult fiction and kids books of all types. 

4. If you had infinite space what would you add?

    Infinite space for us would mean more room for our online inventory. 

5. What’s your earliest/best memory about visiting a bookstore as a child?

    There was a small library in my hometown that we would occasionally visit. I don't remember a specific visit, but memories being there remind me of the smell and the sound of the creaking floors as I walked through the shelves. 

6. What’s been the biggest surprise about running a bookstore?

    Owning a bookstore is a lot less romantic than it's described in books. There is a lot of physical labor involved (books are heavy!) with unloading our shipments of new inventory, and shelving, packaging, and shipping our orders. 

7. If you weren’t running or working at a bookstore, what would you be doing?

    I often think about this question and right now, I'm not entirely sure. I've loved my life these past few years and the lifestyle I've been able to have while owning a bookstore. I used to do more acting (I did some training a few years back), so maybe I'd try to go on more auditions. 

8.  What characteristics do you think a person needs to be a successful independent bookstore owner? What has been the key to your success?

    The most important part of owning any business is motivation. You have to be self-motivated. You have to understand that just because you "can" miss work doesn't mean you should. No one is holding you accountable, but yourself. On the same note, it has always been very important to me to take the time when I need to especially when it involves family (holidays, family vacations, etc.). If you don't allow yourself some time off, you'll burn out. Finding a balance between hard work and taking time off is key.

9. What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to your business?
    I usually work from about 8a-2p everyday. I take one 15 minute lunch break. The first hour is usually catching up on emails, messages, bills. After that, I'll go through my supply sorting into different categories for further processing which my staff handles. The rest of the day is spent adding new inventory to our online platforms. Every other Wednesday I'm out picking up more books from my supplies. 

10. What do you think the future looks like for independent booksellers?

    COVID did a real number on many small business. Those that survived had to adapt to this new environment. I believe that if independent brick-and-mortar bookstores have made it this far, they will be just fine. Even though we had to close our brick-and-mortar, I feel lucky to have remained "open" for my customers so they still have access to cheap books. There is something special about holding a book in your hand and reading it and I believe enough people recognize that. The push to "shop small" and "support local" is encouraging to independent bookstores. 

11. Do you think it’s important for a bookseller to be actively involved in the community? If so, how are you involved in your local community?

    I think being active in the community is important for booksellers. We've been donating to local schools and non-profits since we started. It helps to get your business's name out there, but also spreads the love of reading. I love knowing where our kids books go because if you can get a child to fall in love with reading, it will change their life. 

12. Who is one author you’d like to have dinner with, dead or alive?

    Lemony Snicket would be an interesting person to have dinner with. I loved The Series of Unfortunate Events as a child and it always intrigued me that he never had a picture of himself in the "about the author" section or if there was, his back was turned. 

13. Is there anything else you’d like our followers to know?

    Our bookstore is located in Raleigh, NC. If you're looking for cheap, gently used books, we're a great option. We offer free porch pick-up for the locals or shipping nationwide. I also created a couple of videos to teach customers how to support small businesses while shopping on Amazon and Biblio. Both videos can be found on the website

Thank you again Stephanie for allowing the NC Literary Map to interview you and please check out Dog-Eared Books for your next book!