Books

San Francisco Chronicle: The end—or is it?

Heidi Benson’s article in Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle describes the current efforts to save Kepler’s and begins:

It wasn’t just a bookstore: It was a verb.

Strolling through Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park — after dinner or a movie — was once called “keppling” by one die-hard fan of the Menlo Park store. But all keppling ceased on Aug. 31 when the store abruptly closed after a half-century in business.

Now there’s a chance that Kepler’s, and “keppling,” may return to Menlo Park, thanks to fans of the store — including a fired-up group of potential investors and a lone ranger who launched an online life raft — who have mobilized to try to reopen its doors.

Click here for the full article, which is required reading for anyone interested in saving the Kepler’s.

Call for Qualified Investors

The group with whom Clark Kepler is engaged in talks to save the bookstore is reportedly seeking Qualified Investors capable of making very large contributions. If you fit the bill or think you can help, please email us for further info.

Sunday Evening Note: Posts are not necessarily in chronological order because I am trying to keep more relevant and urgent information near the top of the page. Start scrolling and commence clicking as there is some new content this evening.

Palo Alto Weekly: Come together for Kepler’s

Today’s edition of the Palo Alto Weekly has another article about Tuesday’s rally:

Rachel Bolten, a Castilleja School senior, said she and her friends would work at Kepler’s for free.

Jan Altman, from the company DrivAd, and Richard Cline offered advertising and public relations help.

And an 11-year-old Hillview Middle School student said he’d hold a school fundraiser.

Those were among the numerous grass-roots offers of support for Kepler’s Books — which abruptly closed last week — that were publicly expressed during a special Menlo Park City Council meeting Tuesday.

Click here for the full article.

A Message from Dawn Kepler

Dear Book Lovers,

I want to thank everyone on behalf of my brother, Clark, and our family, for the outpouring of affection and support for Kepler’s. I stood in the plaza and remembered the very first store, saw folks from my father’s time, and just cried to hear the kind words spoken. My brother has given everything he could to the store. He has continued our dad’s vision. My dad didn’t just start a store; he started an idea. He wanted to stop war and he needed an occupation that would support his family while he pursued peace. A book lover himself, he decided that selling books — making all ideas available to everyone — was a way to support himself and, oddly enough, he believed that greater knowledge might bring greater peace!

Someone said if the store reopens it will, of necessity, be different. Folks, the store has been reinvented many times, more than you imagine. But that is what living things do, they change. Kepler’s isn’t just the building, it’s ideas, community, conversation, learning. I think it morphed from being just a family business years ago and became what the readers, the authors, the detractors and the supporters made of it.

First, we have to believe we can change things. Then we will.

Dawn Kepler

Local Coverage of Tuesday’s Rally

The local coverage of Tuesday’s rally is starting to roll in. Click on article headlines below for links to full text. First, however, here are a couple photos courtesy of Eric Hegwer Photography. Click on the images for larger versions.

Rally For Kepler'sRally For Kepler's

San Jose Mercury News: Noted Book Dealer Backed:

People stepped up at a rally and city council work session Tuesday and pledged their talents, dollars and support to re-open Kepler’s, the beloved corner bookstore in Menlo Park.

“I’m going to try to say this without breaking down,” Clark Kepler said to the cheering crowd outside his shuttered shop. “We’re not dead yet.”
….
Outside the city council meeting, Daniel Mendez, co-founder of Visto, a Bay Area high-tech company, said about 10 to 15 potential investors have already stepped forward. They’re all book lovers

San Mateo County Times: Hundreds rally to support Kepler’s:

The crowd was hopeful and hundreds thick at a city-organized rally Tuesday to support keeping their beloved Kepler’s open, this city’s independent bookstore that abruptly closed its doors last week when the money ran out.

Ranging from children to seniors and politicians to patrons, their cheers were extra loud when they heard Clark Kepler, the store’s owner, proclaim from the plaza outside his locked and darkened store, “We are not dead yet.”

San Francisco Examiner: Hundreds turn out for Kepler’s rally:

Hundreds of community members showed support for their favorite independent bookstore Tuesday, rallying in the plaza outside Kepler’s Bookstore and then congregating in City Hall, where the City Council hosted an idea-gathering meeting aimed at saving the store from bankruptcy.

Kepler’s closed its doors suddenly last week after 50 years of selling books on the Peninsula. The closure has sparked a wave of support from elected officials, former politicians, lawyers and literary agents, all pledging to help owner Clark Kepler reopen the store at its current El Camino Real location.

“I want to do this fast,” Kepler said. “I am optimistic [that it can happen].”

Also, in the San Mateo Daily Journal: Rally to save Kepler’s.

And on CBS 5: Menlo Park residents rally to save bookstore

Radical Reeves has a post on his blog about the rally and gives a good summary of the meeting afterwards.

Here are some photos by MaryLynn on Flickr.

Palo Alto Weekly: Nearly 450 rally to help save Kepler’s

Palo Alto Online has posted a story about today’s rally complete with pictures:

Nearly 450 residents of the Menlo Park/Palo Alto area rallied in support of re-opening Kepler’s Bookstore in downtown Menlo Park late Tuesday afternoon — while a steady stream of passing drivers on El Camino Real honked supportive horns.
….
At one point, the crowd was asked how many were Menlo Park residents, and about 30 to 40 percent raised their hands — they were outnumbered by people from other communities.

One family — former Menlo Park resident Chris Jacob and her son Alan — had just arrived from Dublin, Ireland, two hours earlier and came straight to the rally to meet her older son, Stephen, of San Jose.

Stephen recalled going to Kepler’s at age 3 1/2, and Chris said she still has boxes of children’s books that were purchased at Kepler’s. The sons are now in their 20s.

Rally For Kepler’s Today, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 5 pm

There will be a rally today, Tuesday, September 6, at 5 pm outside the bookstore. The rally will be followed at approximately 6 pm by a work session at Menlo Park City Hall (701 Laurel St., Menlo Park) to marshal community resources in support of this beloved local institution. The work session should be attended by all who want to help or learn how to help the bookstore. That goes double for potential investors and those with business, legal, or other expertise that may relate to bookstore operations. People with ideas and suggestions, this is the event for you. People who want to hear ideas and suggestions, this is also the event for you. Clark Kepler will be there.

When: Tuesday, September 6, beginning at 5 pm (Space in the garage under Kepler’s is limited, so plan to allow extra time for parking.)
Where: Kepler’s Books, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025
What to bring: Your support for Kepler’s and its owner, Clark Kepler. Perhaps a sign.

For more information, click here to download the press release for the event. For even more information, please contact Michael Closson or Rick Opaterny.

Here’s the flyer posted at Kepler’s. Click on the image for a larger version. You can also download the flyer and help spread the word by posting it around town.

Rally Flyer

Memories of Kepler’s and Weekend Photos

People from all over have been sending in their memories of Kepler’s. Click here to read some of them.

Here are some photos from this weekend. Click on images for larger versions.

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Kepler'sKepler'sKepler's

A message to the person who put up the large savekeplers.com sign on the front of the store: Thank you. We give you a big, sloppy hug.

San Francisco Examiner: Rally planned to help save Kepler’s Books

The Examiner ran a brief story about the rally scheduled for Tuesday.

Bibliophiles throughout the Peninsula are gearing up to try to save Kepler’s Books, a nationally acclaimed bookstore that suddenly announced impending bankruptcy and closure last week.

This Tuesday, a rally in support of the 50-year-old bookstore will be held at 5 p.m. in front of its shuttered doors at 1010 El Camino Real. A work session follows at Menlo Park City Hall to discuss plans to save the shop. Those with business, bankruptcy law, real estate, investment and other expertise are especially encouraged to attend.

Click here for the full article.

San Jose Mercury: Burst of community support after Kepler’s closing could spur its return

HongDao Nguyen has an article in today’s San Jose Mercury News.

Days after Kepler’s, the landmark bookstore in Menlo Park, shuttered its doors amid financial woes, owner Clark Kepler said Saturday there’s still hope of reviving the business.

Kepler said he has received an outpouring of community support since the store’s abrupt closure Wednesday. And the Tan Group, owners of the building that housed the store on El Camino Real, approached Kepler last week to see if they could work something out, he said.

Another meeting is scheduled Tuesday. Representatives of the Tan Group could not be reached for comment Saturday.

If those talks go well, Kepler said, “I think we have a real good chance of returning.” A handful of potential financial investors have also contacted Kepler to offer help, Kepler said, though he declined to identify them.
….
Clark said Saturday that the love he has gotten since Wednesday has been like a “fairy tale.” People have even asked to volunteer their time working at the store, if that would help.

But he said, “What it really needs is substantial financial support.”

See the full article here. (Free subscription required.) Also in the Mercury today, Tom Parker remembers Kepler’s: “Cozy bookstore was a social hub for generations.”

Message from Menlo Park Mayor, Mickie Winkler

This just arrived in my inbox:

From: mickie650 @aol.com
Date: Sat, 3 Sep 2005 20:37:38 EDT
To: help @savekeplers.com
Subject: Kepler’s Update from Menlo Park Mayor

Dear Menlo Park and Local Residents,

We have all been saddened, even alarmed, by the closing of Kepler’s so soon after we celebrated the store’s 50th. The actual decision to lock the doors was shocking, and apparently a secret closely kept.

The closure generated immediate action. Here’s some of what has been happening:.

Dave Johnson, the city’s economic manager, has been facilitating meetings between Clark Kepler and his landlord, the Tan group, for several months. These are ongoing.

Johnson is contacting national and local independent booksellers to find a replacement for Kepler’s, should attempts to restore Kepler’s fail. (It is not yet clear what actions Kepler himself has taken in this respect.)

A group of investors has formed. Further financial action will of necessity involve creditors, the terms of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy itself, and the ability to introduce cost-saving and marketing measures that allows an independent bookseller to sustain itself long-term.

How to help? Shop Menlo. If there is something that we as citizens can do to make that long-term difference with respect to keeping Kepler’s open, you can be sure I will let you know.

And if you have ideas, let me know, please.

Mickie

Mickie Winkler, Mayor, Menlo Park
MickieWinkler@aol.com

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.”

The Almanac: Can this bookstore be saved?

Andrea Gemmet has a story on the Almanac’s site about the possibility of saving the bookstore.

There’s a chance — a chance — that Kepler’s Books & Magazines in downtown Menlo Park may not be as dead as everyone feared.

The sudden demise of the popular independent bookstore following Clark Kepler’s short, emotional announcement at a 9 a.m. all-staff meeting held Wednesday, August 31, reverberated up and down the Peninsula, as the store’s many devotees reacted with shock, sorrow and disbelief. Almost as soon as word got around that the bookstore was shuttered and locked, there was talk of saving Kepler’s.
….
Mr. Kepler said he was still preparing to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection last week, but he had not yet done so.

“I’m running 100 miles an hour in opposite directions,” he said of his discussions with potential investors and the bankruptcy proceedings. “It’s very draining. At the end of the day, my head is spinning and I’m asking myself, ‘What am I doing?’ But I get up in the morning and keep doing it.”

See the full article here.

The Almanac/Palo Alto Weekly: A ‘miracle’ ray of hope for Kepler’s?

Clark Kepler told the Almanac today that serious investors have come forward and expressed interest in saving the bookstore:

A ray of hope has emerged that Kepler’s Bookstore in Menlo Park could be resurrected.

Owner Clark Kepler told the Almanac weekly newspaper (sister paper of the Palo Alto Weekly) Friday that three “qualified investors” have come forward who might help save the 50-year-old store — a Peninsula landmark and cultural hub.

“Miracles started happening,” after the investors contacted him, Kepler said in the interview. “I’m entertaining qualified investors who are looking at saving Kepler’s.” He declined to name them or give details about the magnitude of the bookstore’s financial troubles.

“Daily and hourly, things are happening. Yesterday morning I first started getting these possibilities coming forward,” he said Friday. “I think something is going to happen in the next few days or in the next week that will tell me what direction we’re going in.

In addition, the Palo Alto-based Tan Group, owner of the Menlo Center complex where Kepler’s has been located since 1989, issued a short press release declaring it wants to keep Kepler’s there and saying it met with Kepler Friday “to determine how we might work together to make this happen.”

The release said the group was “stunned to hear … that Kepler’s books had closed their doors. Contrary to the impression given by the media, on several occasions in the past we have worked closely with Clark Kepler in successfully navigating financial challenges.”

“We consider Kepler’s a unique asset to, and irreplaceable part of Menlo Center” and “very much want to retain them,” the release stated. “We were encouraged by today’s meeting and will continue our efforts to help the Kepler’s legacy endure.”

See the rest of the story on Palo Alto Online.

Literary events for June 2005

Here are some listings for local literary happenings during the remainder of the month, which we selected carefully and posted haphazardly. Events are free unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, June 8
Nicole Krauss reads from her novel, The History of Love, at 7 pm at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books on Van Ness in San Francisco.

Thursday, June 9

David Sedaris reads at 7 pm at Booksmith on Haight in San Francisco.

Nicole Krauss reads at Kepler’s in Menlo Park at 7:30 pm.

Sunday, June 12
826 Valencia hosts a seminar on writing and publishing poetry from 6 until 9 pm. Panelists include Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Joyce Jenkins, and Genny Lim . James Kass, the executive director of Youth Speaks, will moderate. Cost is $100 per person.

Monday, June 13
David Ewing Duncan reads from his new book, The Geneticist Who Played Hoops With My DNA, at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books on Van Ness in San Francisco.

Tuesday, June 14

The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco hosts the California Book Awards at 5 pm. Tickets are $15. Location: 595 Market St., Second Floor.

Wednesday, June 15
Paul Theroux reads from his new novel, Blinding Light, at Kepler’s in Menlo Park at 7:30 pm.

Michael Cunningham does a City Arts & Lectures event at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco at 8 pm. Tickets are $20.

Friday, June 17
Michael Cunningham reads from his new novel, Specimen Days, at Kepler’s in Menlo Park at 7:30. Tickets are $30 at Kepler’s and include a copy of Specimen Days.

Monday, June 20
Nick Hornby reads from his new novel, A Long Way Down, at 7 pm at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books on Van Ness in San Francisco.

Tuesday, June 21
Nick Hornby reads from his new novel, A Long Way Down, at 7:30 pm at Kepler’s in Menlo Park.

Kaui Hart Hemmings reads from her first collection of short stories, House of Thieves, at 7 pm at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books on Van Ness in San Francisco.

Friday, June 24
Daniel Clowes reads from his new graphic novel, Ice Haven, at Booksmith on Haight at 7 pm.

Saturday, June 25
Salvador Plascencia reads from his first novel, The People of Paper, and Eli Horowitz unveils Issue 16 of McSweeney’s at 7 pm at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books on Van Ness in San Francisco.

Tuesday, June 28
Frank Deford discusses the creation of modern baseball at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Tickets are $18 for non-members and $12 for members. Get there at 5:30 pm for the wine reception or 6 pm for the program.

New York Times on class in fiction

Charles McGrath provides today’s installment in the Times’ mostly excellent series on class in America. His essay about class in fiction offers little that we haven’t heard before and includes this horrendous paragraph:

Celebrities, in fact, have inherited much of the glamour and sexiness that used to attach itself to the aristocracy. If Gatsby were to come back today, he would come back as Donald Trump and would want a date not with Daisy but with Britney. And if Edith Wharton were still writing, how could she not include a heavily blinged hip-hop mogul?

Books on Monday

Books bought:
That Night by Alice McDermott
A Smuggler’s Bible by Joseph McElroy
The Last Good Chance by Tom Barbash
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Embers by Sandor Marai

Books read:
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer

Tender is the Night

Maud is preparing to reread one of my favorite novels. Tender is the Night and has a little post on it up at her site. I first read this book for a class on Fitzgerald six years ago and reread it three years ago. I don’t think I have read a better book about someone breaking apart, in which causality and motivation no longer make sense to the reader with wonderful and unsettling effects.

Kazuo Ishiguro at Kepler’s

My friend Casey and I saw Kazuo Ishiguro speak at Kepler’s on Monday. He read the first chapter from his new novel, Never Let Me Go, and then took some questions from the audience. Unfortunately, I disproportionate number of the questions asked about his writing process. Questions on craft, when asked at readings, tend to produce interminably boring answers. Ishiguro did, however, note an interesting aspect of his work, which is that setting is usually the last element that he comes up with in his novels. He can have an entire novel ready to put down on the page and still be missing a setting for it.

Other comments from Ishiguro:

He no longer writes about Japan or the Japanese because when he did, he was sort of annointed Britain’s expert on all things Japanese, which seemed to him a limiting and burdening label that was also terribly inappropriate.

The Unconsoled apparently enjoys some sort of strange popularity in the Bay Area. He said that it’s the only bok people seem to be interested in at his book readings.

F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference

The eight F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference begins tomorrow at Hofstra University in New York. As a huge Fitzgerald fan, I wish I could be there. The focus this year is on Fitzgerald’s time out on Long Island, where he conceived and wrote much of The Great Gatsby. (Because of the conference’s location and subject, it even got some nice coverage in the Times.) Fitzgerald lived at 6 Gateway Drive in Great Neck—a house that became the model for Nick Carraway’s West Egg bungalow in Gatsby. I visited New York for the first time when I was 17 and this was the one place that I had to check out. So, I took the LIRR out to Great Neck, and walked out to the house. At the time it was undergoing some rather extensive remodeling. Last May before I moved out of New York, I made it a point to go out to Great Neck again to see the house. Here is how it looked in 2004:
Fitzgerald House