Printers Inc. Bookstore

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Printers Inc. Bookstore
Private subsidiary
FateOut of Business
Founded1978 (1978)[1]
FounderJerry Shurtleff (co-founder)[2]
Defunct2001 (2001)
Headquarters310 California Ave, Palo Alto, CA
301 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA[3]
Number of locations
Area served
Palo Alto, Stanford, Mountain View, Menlo Park, California, United States
Key people
Susan MacDonald and Gerry Masteller (to 1999)
Matthew Duran (to 2001)[4]
  • Books
  • Magazines (Historic)

Printers Inc. Bookstore (1978–2001) was an independent bookstore in Palo Alto and Mountain View, California, that closed in 2001. Printers Inc is referenced in sonnets 8.13-8.16 of Vikram Seth's 1986 novel, The Golden Gate.[5][6][7]


In 1978,[1] five Kepler's Books alumni (including Jerry Shurtleff) founded Printers Inc. Bookstore. The original Palo Alto store at 310 California Avenue[8] occupied a former thrift store location.[2][9][10][11] A second store was located at 301 Castro Street in Mountain View, California.[8] Printers Inc. Bookstore was also a popular destination for Stanford University students.[12] The Printers Inc. Cafe originally shared space in the California Avenue branch in Palo Alto[13] and subsequently moved next door.[8] American author Frances Mayes describes this history in her 2006 memoir, A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller:

Susan and Kate, with their friend Jerry, then opened Printers Inc., a literary bookstore on California Street in Palo Alto. They installed a coffee bar/cafe,[14] which was revolutionary. No other bookstore in California, or maybe the United States, had done that in 1978. We were sipping cappuccinos and reading Merwin at Printers long before Starbucks ever pulled an espresso. The bookstore for its whole life was a fulcrum for the entire community and surroundings. Meet me at Printers. Eventually they expanded into an adjacent building for a larger cafe. The reading series was stellar. They opened a second store.[15]

In the early 1990s, chain bookstores such as Borders and Barnes & Noble began to compete with independent bookstores such as Printers Inc.[1][2] The rise of also affected Printers Inc. and other independent bookstores.[16] Thus, in December 1998, Printers Inc. announced that it would be closing.[8][12][17] The local community protested the closing, however, as the owners began to search for a new partner.[18] In March 1999 Printers Inc. was resurrected under new management.[4][19] This management lasted until 2001 when Printers Inc. Bookstore closed for good.[20][21][22][23] The Printers Inc. Cafe, however, did not close as it is under different management.[8][20][24]


The 2006 documentary Indies Under Fire tells the story of Printers Inc. and other independent bookstores affected by the new economy.[25] Director Jacob Bricca stated that he made the documentary after Printers Inc. closed: "I took the [store's closing] very personally ... I grew up in Palo Alto and spent many hours reading and hanging out at Printers Inc. I saw the strong connection the community had to the bookstore and, like others in the film, was very distressed at its closing."[26]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kazak, Don (1996-06-05). "BUSINESS: Borders opens today downtown". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  2. ^ a b c Hayde, Monica (1994-12-11). "The novel approach". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved 2015-08-10.
  3. ^ "A WORD TO READERS". San Francisco Chronicle. 1999-09-23. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  4. ^ a b Kazak, Don (1999-03-26). "BUSINESS: Palo Alto Printers Inc. to remain open". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  5. ^ Seth, Vikram. The Golden Gate, (New York, Vintage, 1991): 179-180
  6. ^ Bobb, Dilip (1986-06-15). "Vikram Seth: Literary sensation". India Today. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  7. ^ Haven, Cynthia (2010-11-23). "Happy birthday, Bell's Books!". Stanford University. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  8. ^ a b c d e Breitrose, Charlie (1998-12-11). "COMMUNITY: Printers Inc. will shut down in March". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  9. ^ Harrington, Jim (1997-09-10). "Sweet home, California". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  10. ^ Margolies, Elliot (2006-09-22). "Battle of the bookstores:New documentary follows the struggles of small California booksellers". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  11. ^ Doyle, Michael (2005-10-31). "How Kepler's changed the world". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  12. ^ Brown, Kim (1980). "BOOKSTORES". The Stanford Daily, Volume 178, Issue 50, 10 December 1980. Retrieved 2015-12-27.
  13. ^ "Printers Inc. Bookstore & Coffee Bar (Book Cover)". Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  14. ^ Mayes, Frances (2006). "A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller". Broadway Books, p. 330. Retrieved 2015-12-27.
  15. ^ Kazak, Don (1998-12-16). "Our Town:'d". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved 2015-08-10.
  16. ^ Zinko, Carolyne (1998-12-26). "Internet Smashing Small Bookstores / Printers Inc. in Palo Alto to close". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  17. ^ Kazak, Don (1999-02-03). "BUSINESS: Printers Inc. owners still looking for partner". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  18. ^ "For Printers Inc., a Surprise Ending". Stanford University. 1999. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  19. ^ a b "MOUNTAIN VIEW / Books Inc. takes over Printers Inc. location". San Francisco Chronicle. 2001-06-18. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  20. ^ Bloss, Jaime (2001-04-20). "Time running out for Printers Inc". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  21. ^ Bloss, Jaime (2001-04-27). "Palo Alto Printers Inc. to close". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  22. ^ Kazak, Done (2001-07-04). "Saving a bookstore: When Printers Inc. in Palo Alto shut down about a month ago, it felt like a connection with an earlier time had been severed". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  23. ^ Harris, Malcolm (2011-09-23). "Obituary: Borders Books and Music". The New Inquiry. Retrieved 2015-12-27.
  24. ^ Schwartz, Nomi (2006-10-17). "Bookstores to Offer Screenings of Indies Under Fire -". American Booksellers Association. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
  25. ^ Schwartz, Nomi (2006-08-23). "Indies Under Fire: Bookstore Battles on Film". American Booksellers Association. Retrieved 2015-10-29.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°25′39″N 122°08′40″W / 37.4274°N 122.1444°W / 37.4274; -122.1444