New York Times Coverage

John Markoff has an article about the closing of Kepler’s in Saturday’s New York Times. Most of the piece recounts the bookstore’s history, but it ends like this:

The reaction of Steven Fields, a longtime customer, was typical on Wednesday. After having lunch at Cafe Borrone next door, he told his 11-year-old daughter, Hanna, that Kepler’s was closed. She immediately burst into tears.

“What am I going to do?” she said. “Where am I going to go? It was the best place.”

10 Comments

  1. Jyotsna Dhawan

    Kepler’s was a lifeline-I lived around the corner in the early 90’s
    while I was a postdoc at Stanford. Kepler’s and Cafe Borrone were
    the only place to be on a Sunday morning -newspaper, fabulous coffee,
    a sense of community, and the incredibly well-read staff at Kepler’s!
    I am back in India now, and read with horror that Kepler’s is closed.
    Considering what a wealthy community surrounds this haven, I hope something can be done to save it.

  2. Jill Bressler

    As a former employee (late 80s), I can’t begin to express my saddness at this news. I live in New York now, but working at Kepler’s was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I still order books from there, and recently referred a friend in the east village to the website. of course, what she was looking for was in stock and was shipped to her within a few days. Why do people shop at chains when there’s such an amazing resource both physically and online? I’ll never understand. I hope Clark can get the money together to continue.

  3. pat dlarzelere

    i’ll be there tuesday, but what can we do? i spent as much money(but more time)as i could there but the costs are uncontrollable. i’m sure that if he could find a warp-floored old barn that could be readily wired he’d be on it like a duck on a june bug…but this is not the age of miracles. but that just means that we need your likes now more than ever.

  4. Laura Pauli

    Hi Rick – Thank you! Thank you for creating this web site (http://www.savekeplers.com).
    Thank you for standing up and saying “Enough!” I now live in Paris but grew up in
    Menlo Park, as did my parents, and I have stood on the sidelines as one small local
    proprietor after another shut its doors, unable to make ends meet, only to be replaced
    by behemoths such as Starbucks, Noah’s Bagels, The Gap, and the like with deep pocket
    corporate funds.

    On trips home, one of my first stops is always to Kepler’s and Borrone’s for a paper
    and coffee to catch up on the local scuttlebutt. Kepler’s was a beloved institution
    and over the past half century had woven itself into the fabric of and instrumentally
    contributed to the richness (culturally speaking) of this community, a “cultural nexus”
    as one former employee reminisced. It wasn’t simply a store to buy a book, it was a
    meeting place to gather, learn and listen. I can’t count the number of authors I had
    the to privilege to hear speak. It was also a comfortable haven to just grab a book or
    magazine and melt in one of their overstuffed chairs, a brief respite from the frenetic
    pace, the insanity, not to mention the traffic, of the Valley.

    The Tan Group should be mortified and I am infuriated at reading Dave Johnson’s (City
    of Menlo Park’s business development officer) comment: … the city “worked with Clark
    Kepler to help him in seeking relief from an inordinately high ‘pre-bubble’ rent
    structure. No relief was granted.” These are not the “neighbors” that belong or
    deserve to be in Menlo Park. I look to Roland Passot and the Left Bank as the paradigm
    of a good neighbor. They sell $50 gift certificates and donate $20 to the Menlo Park
    Atherton Education Foundation. Just up the road, Siebel Systems holds fundraisers to
    benefit the local San Mateo library. Granted, Kepler’s is not a non-profit but what
    has The Tan Group given back to the community that has supported it so generously
    since its opening…besides driving out one of its most admired establishments?

    Their “rent structure” is nothing short of price gouging during a gas shortage or
    natural disaster….and the last time I checked, that was illegal. This is greed at
    its most despicable and The Tan Group should be held accountable, if not embarrassed
    and humiliated into negotiating with Kepler’s within their means. Is The Tan Group
    not making enough money? I highly doubt it, given the explosive success of Borrone’s
    and their many corporate tenants! How many landmarks, local institutions, centers of
    community activity and vibrancy have gone out of business due to avaricious, gluttonous
    landlords? I can name at least a dozen off the top of my head in Menlo Park alone. I
    hope to not add Kepler’s to the list. Thank goodness people, such as yourself, are
    saying “Enough!”

    I don’t know what I can do 6,000 miles away to help but if you think of something,
    please don’t hesitate to let me know.

    Merci beaucoup,
    Laura Pauli

  5. John Kadvany

    What’s needed in the short-term is a rapid infustion of capital into the store. I propose Kepler’s debit cards which expire in one year, so that your unspent credit becomes a financial credit to the store. If you care about Kepler’s, you shouldn’t mind supporting the store in that way. Or you can just spend out the credit over a year, but giving Kepler’s the benefit of increased operating capital. Since individuals can “scale” what they buy and “invest” in Kepler’s, it’s an efficient mechanism accomodating all kinds of people’s wallets. The cards will bring people to the store right away–assuming it can quickly reopen. Since the amounts “pledged” can be posted, people will know what others are investing, and that will give them the right signal to invest themselves. In a matter of months we would learn what it takes to sustain in this store and be in a much better position to consider what comes next.

  6. Leslie B.

    The news about Kepler’s closing was a huge shock. I was a Kepler’s employee in the early 80s (ending as a buyer). The work was hard (especially at Christmas), but it was fun a lot of the time and the opportunities to learn unparalleled. To this day I have to stop myself from automatically straightening if I’m in front of a book display.

    Being part of an institution of such historic and cultural significance made all of the hard work worthwhile. I very much hope that the solutions appearing now will allow Kepler’s to stay afloat, with its unique character intact. We desperately need signs of hope right now.

    With hugs to Clark and all of the Kepler’s crew past and present during this time of difficulty

    Leslie B.

  7. Jude Hsiang

    As another former employee–1988 /99–I was shocked when I got the news on Thursday via email from an uncle in Maine who heard it from a War Resister’s League connection. In the years since I moved back East I’ve continually touted Kepler’s to anyone in search of books and no doubt driven employers to distraction by citing many expamle’s of the right way–the Kepler’s way–of conducting business. My husband and I lost our small business 2 years ago, but the loss of Kepler’s has been a more emotional blow. I am hopeful that Clark will be able to find worthy investors to continue his mission.

  8. elizabeth cheung

    I am deeply saddened by why I have just heard. I now live in Los Angeles, but whenever I visit my parents, the first stop I make is always to Keplers. There are no book stores in Los Angeles that even begin to compare.

  9. Scott Y.

    “Keplers is a GREAT resource for Menlo Park’s school. They support us with summer reading books for our students. Kepler’s also has guest authors of children’s books, where we can bring our class to during the day and list to them read. Keplers is MORE than just a book store, they’re a community resource for students, adults. What we have recieved from Keplers is 110% and more than we could ever get online!

    Keplers you will remain!

  10. joyce malick

    i am a local music teacher. i haven’t gotten much teaching done this week; the children just want to talk about keplers! their list of memories is long and wonderful; my family’s list doubles it!! please hang in there; you are this communities “best place”. (i’ve scolded people for years about browsing at keplers and buying elsewhere)joyce malick, friends and family

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