Kepler's Books

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Kepler's Books
Type Private subsidiary
Founded Menlo Park, California (May 25, 1955)
Founder(s) Roy Kepler & Patricia Kepler
Headquarters Menlo Park, California, U.S.
Key people Roy Kepler (Founder)
Clark Kepler
Products Books, magazines
Website Official website

Kepler's Books and Magazines is an independent bookstore in Menlo Park, California. It was founded on May 14, 1955 by Roy Kepler,[1] who had previously been a staff member of the Berkeley listener-supported radio station KPFA. It "soon blossomed into a cultural epicenter and attracted loyal customers from the students and faculty of Stanford University and from other members of the surrounding communities who were interested in serious books and ideas."[2]

Sixties counterculture[edit]

John Markoff in his 2005 text, What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry referenced Kepler's as an important meeting point for the Counterculture of the 1960s.[3] The Palo Alto Weekly also noted that, "through the 60s and 70s, the culture of Kepler's began to evolve into a broader counter-culture. Beat intellectuals and pacifists were joined by "people who worked for Whole Earth, hippies into the rock and roll and recreational drug scene, politicos, and people with an interest in ethnic groups."[1] The Grateful Dead gave live shows there[4] and "folk singer Joan Baez, members of the Grateful Dead, and many local leaders remember sharing ideas, political action, music, and danger in the cramped store."[5][6]

According to the 1992 book Aces Back to Back by Scott W. Allen, the roots of the Grateful Dead's musical family tree were sown at Kepler's Books in 1960. That year, the Hunter/ Garcia folk duo played there and at universities and colleges all over the Bay Area. "From this point on," says Jerry Garcia, "I kept going farther into music and [Robert] Hunter into writing."

Recent history[edit]

In 1980, Roy Kepler’s son Clark took over the management of the bookstore. The store had three different locations in Menlo Park,[7] moving in 1989 to its current location in the Menlo Center on El Camino Real. In 1990 Publishers Weekly named Kepler’s “Bookseller of the Year.”[6]

Due to the rise of chain bookstores and online shopping, Kepler's closed its doors on August 31, 2005.[8] The local community held demonstrations to protest the closing.[9] Kepler's subsequently re-opened in October 2005 with community investments, volunteers and donations.[10][6]

In 2008, The Kepler's children's department won the Pannell Award for excellence.[11] In addition, the 2008 documentary Paperback Dreams chronicles the related histories of Kepler's and the now defunct Cody's Books in Berkeley, California.[12]

In 2012, Clark Kepler and Praveen Madan, of San Francisco's "The Booksmith," put together the Kepler’s "Transition Team," a group of volunteer local business and community leaders, which launched “Kepler’s 2020,” an initiative that seeks to transform the independent bookstore into a next-generation community literary and cultural center. The project aims to 'create a hybrid business model that includes a for-profit, community-owned-and-operated bookstore, and a nonprofit organization that will feature on-stage author interviews, lectures by leading intellectuals, educational workshops and other literary and cultural events,' according to Kepler's press release. [13] The current vision is to split Kepler's into two legal entities – a for-profit business and a community and charity nonprofit – with the complementary goals of fostering a culture of books, ideas and 'intellectual discourse and civic engagement in the community,' according to Kepler's press release."[14][15]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]