Monday, Monday: The State of the Independents and More…

In addition to Sunday’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle, there has been some other media coverage of the Kepler’s story over the past few days. (If you only have time for one story, make it the Chronicle one, though.) David Morrill has an article on Inside Bay Area about the current state of independent bookstores and the resonating effect of Kepler’s closure throughout the bookselling world. Morrill’s article describes a clear opposition between independents and the big chains. Taking a contrarian view, Rhett Butler offers the idea that independent stores could profit by teaming up with Amazon. Gilles d’Aymery argues, rightly, that customers should and will order online, but that they should do so from their local bookstore. If and when Kepler’s reopens, will offer local same day delivery. Not even Amazon can give you that. Also in the news, The San Mateo County Times published an interview with me.

If you haven’t written a letter to the Tan Group yet, now is the time to do so. Their cooperation in renegotiating Clark Kepler’s lease on the Menlo Center space is essential if the store is to reopen there. Again, the address for the Tan Group is: Tan Group: 3630 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306.

Finally, if you are not yet on our mailing list, send us an email. After all, why wallow? Why wait?

Update: KQED’s Forum with Michael Krasny did a show about Kepler’s and independent bookstores. Krasny’s guests included Clark Kepler and Andy Ross, the owner of Cody’s books in Berkeley. This show is required listening for people who are concerned about independent bookstores. If you have iTunes, you can click here for Forum’s podcast directory. Otherwise, you can click here.


  1. Anneliese

    Just saw some new books out and first thought was to pick them up tonight at Kepler’s as I have a doctor appointment in Menlo Park.
    Reality soon followed – I will make a list of things to buy once Kepler’s re-opens.

  2. Guy Tiphane

    I know that Rhett Butler’s view that stores could “partner” with amazon sounds logical at first, but how could the bookstore stock books in the hope that customers would look the other way when they see the amazon terminal offering the same book for less? The result: books for browsing that nobody would buy because they end up damaged (same as the magazines the people peruse and don’t buy).

    amazon was not making money by cutting prices on books, so they cut prices on all sorts of other things. Buy more, pay less. Even Harry Potter didn’t have the decency of avoiding discount stores.

    I guess I don’t have a solution. If we talk about a “community bookstore” the community has to stop playing cheap, reading books and magazines for free, and then complaining that Kepler’s doesn’t stock the book they were looking for. It’s like going to the only movie theatre remaining in Menlo Park (Guild) with your own snacks. Or… going to an author’s event at Kepler’s and ask the author to sign a book you bought at Costco.

  3. Janet Hallock

    Neil Gaiman is an extremely popular and talented author who was scheduled to appear at Kepler’s later this month (his new book is “Anansi Boys”). I was planning to come, buy books, and bring friends to buy more books. It’s a disappointment, on top of the tragedy of the store closing.

    I suggested that he might consider appearing in Menlo Park–SOMEwhere–as a fundraising event to help reopen the store.

    I’ve just sent an email to him asking him to do this. Who knows. He’s a terrific author and very generous in many ways — CBLDF, destitute author friends, and charities that he regularly mentions in his online journal, urging his readers to contribute. And I know he’s still coming to this area (San Francisco & East Bay).

  4. Scottie Zimmerman

    I had a really bad Amazon experience; paid $28 for a VHS tape of “Year of the Horse” (Neil Young and Jim Jarmusch). The 3rd party vendor, from Quebec, sent me an edition with French subtitles, in spite of my clear request for a plain English version, no subtitles. When I sent the tape back to them (already paid for), they claimed it never arrived. The final insult, however, was that Amazon would NOT let me post the info as a review of the vendor. No more $$ to Amazon from me….

    I frequently order books online from Kepler’s and pick them up when they come in. Easy to do. My most recent order, for two books of poetry, has not arrived yet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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