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review 2019-08-07 21:01
It was fun
My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Fa... My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop - Leif Parsons,Ronald Rice,Richard Russo

I have the updated edition which includes more essays - the number is 96 essays in my updated edition.

It should be noted that the book only concerns North American bookstores (though only two are from Canada, and there are none from Mexico). Additionally, it is bookstores that sell new books (or new and used books), so a straightforward used bookstore wouldn't make the cut, so no bookstores like the excellent Word in Montreal.

This is a collection of essays from various writers about their favorite bookstore. As such the essays run from wonderful to meh. Some of the writers do focus a bit too much on their own book signings. Which is strange because while that might want to make an another author use the book stores as a publicity stop, readers will be looking for far more than that.

The majority of the stores are from California because of reasons, I guess. (Look, you should know that I am peeved that Joseph Fox did not make it into this book. Damnit Rice, you're from Philly, you should know). There also is a bit too much bashing of Amazon, ereaders, Borders, and Barnes and Noble. Look, I get it, but not everyone who uses those places neglects Indies. I use my kindle because on a hour commute it is hecka a lot easier to carry then a book and spare.

One of the best essays is Laurent DuBois' whose selection includes a drawing from his son. Isabel Allende's essay is also wonderful. Another stand out is Peter Geye. In fact, several essays will make you not only want to go to the bookstore in question but read works by the author.

I was surprised Paragraphe didn't make it, though Type Books in Toronto did. (I've been to that one).

Anne Haywood Leal's essay is most likely the best.

There is a Laurie R King essay and a Henry Louis Gates Jr essay. (Did you know that he has a hamburger named after him? Neither did I).

I think though, my favorite is the combined entry of Daniel Handler (a certain LS) and Lisa Brown, which is done in graphic novel format and features drinking.

The best essays are the ones highlight the love of reader finding a perfect store.

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video 2019-04-26 20:12

I just stumbled over this video about creating a habit of reading in an age, in which so many things (Netflix, Facebook, Twitter and so on) are able to distract us. Even though we don´t suffer from this particular problem, I thought I would share it with you nevertheless.

And there are some drool-worthy bookshops featured in it as well. I so want to visit the bookish town in Portugal.

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text 2018-09-19 08:21
Bookstores: Borderlands in San Francisco

BorderlandsBorderlands Books is a fantastic otherworldly experience in the heart of San Francisco. A specialty store that focuses on science-fiction, fantasy and horror novels, this is a bookstore for a true connoisseur of speculative fiction. I’m not sure if I qualify entirely, as I’m not as well read in the field as I’d like to be. But I do love me some Tim Powers and Ursula Le Guin, and I’m truly deeply madly in love with Nisi Shawl and Octavia Butler’s writing, so sign me up as a fan of Borderlands Books.


In fact, I did just that back in 2015. I signed up to be a sponsor of Borderlands Books, and you can do the same thing. In the hot real estate market of San Francisco, bookstores are hardly viable. So literate people of goodwill have signed up to ensure that a great bookstore like this can stay in the city.


You can sign up right here as a sponsor.


You might wonder how all of this came about.


In 1997 Alan Beatts opened Borderlands Books in Hayes Valley as a used-only bookstore consisting of his personal collection and a selection of books from Know Knew Books in Palo Alto.


Bookstore owner Beatts had done a lot of things before opening his new and used science fiction bookstore. Private Investigator, night club manager, and briefly a used clothing salesman. But he’s stuck to it with Borderlands Books — which is now the largest science fiction bookstore in the United States, carrying 14,000 titles specializing in science fiction, fantasy, and horror.


BorderlandsBorderlands Books is important in SF and fantasy circles, with many author events per year and international tourists popping in daily during busy months. Borderlands Books makes appearances at horror and science-fiction conventions, and has hosted numerous events with a variety of SF/F luminaries, including Lou Anders, Chris Roberson, John Varley, Jacqueline Carey, John Picacio, Graham Joyce, Patricia McKillip, Paolo Bacigalupi, David Drake, Randall Munroe, Steven Erikson, and Cory Doctorow.


Here’s another nice twist — the café attached to Borderlands Books serves coffee or tea, but they never play music and there is no wi-fi, so that you can simply read books. You can sit and read a new book, or nosh on café treats and read one of the SF magazines also sold at Borderlands. I’ve always thought reading is the point of having a bookstore café, so I’m glad that Borderlands agrees with me.


Borderlands Books also hosts the Tachyon Publications anniversary party with the associated Emperor Norton Awards, given for “extraordinary invention and creativity unhindered by the constraints of paltry reason”. The first award is given to a single work of science fiction, fantasy, or horror, or to an author in these genres, and the second to any creation, creator, or service relating to those genres. In 2008, Borderlands’ owner Alan Beatts and general manager Jude Feldman were jointly nominated for a World Fantasy Award under the World Fantasy Special Award: Professional category.


Despite all this awesomeness, Borderlands couldn’t survive on its own.

On February 2, 2015, in an open letter posted on Borderlands Books website, the owners Alan Beatts and Jude Feldman, announced they would close the store on March 31, 2015. The Valencia Street store — one of the largest of its kind in the world, specializing in science fiction, fantasy, mystery and horror titles — drew widespread coverage (including a New Yorker piece) after it said the city’s increase in the minimum wage to $15 would not allow it to continue as “a financially viable business” (for the record, the owners support the minimum wage increase).


Then, thanks to a public meeting at which customers proposed ideas for saving the store, a new sponsorship plan was hatched.


Borderlands Books announced a plan to remain open by relying on sponsorships. Soon it seemed that every fan of speculative fiction in the known universe was willing to help out. People from Peter Straub to Neil Gaiman to Joe Hill all sounded the alarm on their social media channels.


Borderlands Sponsors“It’s been incredible,” Beatts said. “I had no idea that this would get so much attention from the press, from the public. I was astonished by how many people wanted to get involved.”


The initial goal was merely 300 private sponsors at $100 apiece. This goal was soon surpassed. In fact, the first cohort maxed out at 844 sponsors!

Every year since then, people have signed up to support Borderlands Books, and perhaps the bookstore will even buy their building! (here are some details about the building)


I am proud to say that I was an early supporter of Borderlands Bookstore — here I am, listed under my SF moniker “Nicholas Hallum” as sponsor #214 — one of the first 300 to stand in the gap and defend the bookstore against the forces of avarice and illiteracy! Have I mentioned that you can join us?


You can sign up right here to sponsor Borderlands Books.


Visit Borderlands Books right here.






Pinterest – Ned Hayes Bookstore Board
Source: nednote.com/borderlands
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text 2018-08-23 10:18
Bookstores: Kepler’s Books

Keplers Books


Read my books at Kepler’s



Kepler’s bookstore has been part of my life for many decades. The first place my family lived when we moved from Taiwan to the United States in the early 1980s was Sunnyvale California. I am sure that my mother, as an avid reader, visited Kepler’s bookstore in Palo Alto with me in tow. But although I was in fourth or fifth grade, I have no memory of visiting Kepler’s at that time. Instead, my first memories of visiting Kepler’s are on post-college road trips from Washington State to California, when we made regular pitstops in Silicon Valley, stayed with friends or family in the area for a night or two, and visited Kepler’s on the way.


Why visit Kepler’s? Because it was the best and richest book experience in the south San Francisco area – a book refuge in the middle of the intellectually barren software and hardware technology companies. For over 60 years, Kepler’s has been a major intellectual and cultural hub for the Peninsula. On my peripatetic travels through northern California, I always made a point of stopping at Kepler’s.


Keplers BooksOne particularly significant stop was in 1993, when I did a solo 1500 mile bicycle traverse of the West Coast, from southern California to northern Washington — all the riding time completed in 12 days flat (on some days, I topped 200 miles pedaled!). The days on which I wasn’t riding were spent with family or friends in California, Oregon and Washington. And at my favorite haunts, including restaurants I enjoyed and beautiful bookstores I knew and loved on the West Coast.


On one particularly memorable hot August day, I bicycled over the Diablo mountain range from the Merced area, and down the other side into San Jose and then on to Palo Alto Valley, where I stayed overnight with a cousin who was in graduate student housing at Stanford University. The next day I peddled over to Kepler’s to pay my allegiance to the best bookstore in the region. In my sweat-stained biking togs I must’ve been an interesting sight, but I still walked out with at least one hardcover (Anne Tyler’s Saint Maybe, as I remember) that I put in my bicycle panniers and subsequently toted with me all the way to Seattle Washington. The book made for some great evening reading by my campfire.


Keplers Books

Even though I’d been a fan and a regular for many years, I didn’t know the storied history of the bookstore until quite recently. Here’s a brief version — Kepler’s Books was founded in Menlo Park in May 1955 by peace activist Roy Kepler. Along with Cody’s in Berkeley and City Lights in San Francisco, Kepler’s led the paperback revolution in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 50’s and 60’s. According to their website, Kepler’s “soon blossomed into a cultural epicenter, attracting a loyal following among Beat intellectuals, pacifists, students and faculty of Stanford University, and other members of the surrounding communities, interested in serious books and ideas.” In fact, the Grateful Dead performed at Kepler’s early in their career, and they, along with folk singer Joan Baez, often appeared at Kepler’s holding impromptu salons with local community leaders to discuss ideas, political action, and music.


Keplers BooksAfter the 60s were over, Kepler’s continued with a new generation. In 1980, Roy’s son, Clark Kepler, took over the management of the bookstore. In 1989, Kepler’s moved to its current location in the Menlo Center on El Camino Real. Under Clark’s leadership, Kepler’s expanded its role in the community, developing new partnerships and programs, and winning multiple awards nationally and locally. In 1990 Publishers Weekly named Kepler’s “Bookseller of the Year.”


As the technology revolution swept across the country and changed how people buy things, the bottom line dropped out of Kepler’sbookselling business. Amazon had taken a significant bite out of the paperback market. (Oddly enough in the early 1990s, I had the opportunity for a job in the early days of Amazon.com, but I didn’t pursue it because I felt it would take time away from writing novels. I was right on the novel writing front, but wrong on the potential positive impact that an early role as a booksite editor at Amazon would’ve had on my life.) In any case, the advent of Amazon and the box big sellers such as Barnes and Noble had a massive negative impact on small bookseller such as Kepler’s.


Keplers FoundationIn 2006, Kepler’s announced it was closing -– the only independent bookseller in the greater Silicon Valley region now dead. Fortunately, there was a massive outcry of protest from the literary public. People knew that they needed a bookstore in Silicon Valley.


Thus, the Kepler’s Literary Foundation was born, and Kepler’s bookstore resurrected! A new organization — the Kepler’s Literary Foundation — was formed to create events, readings, and additional experiences associated with literate culture, and keep the Kepler’s experience alive for future generations.


In the last 2000s, I was fortunate to visit the re-vivified Kepler’s bookstore on a nearly weekly basis for a few years. For many years, I’ve worked for large technology companies who have bases of operation in Silicon Valley, from Adobe to Microsoft to Xerox PARC and Intel. Between 2007-2012, I worked variously as the CEO of a small technology company funded in part by investors in Silicon Valley and as a principal product lead for an R&D team at Xerox PARC, located in Palo Alto, (more on my interesting tech career here).


When I worked in Palo Alto, I commuted down from my home in Washington state on a weekly basis (my “super commute” was even covered in the Seattle Times). While I was on the road to Palo Alto every week, I made a regular habit of stopping at Kepler’s bookstore to attend author readings, buy books, and check on what new releases piqued my interest. Eventually, my work at Xerox PARC ended and I sold off my interest in the Valley-funded tech company.


But now, as a senior manager at Intel — whose headquarters are in Santa Clara — I have fresh excuses to check in at Kepler’s on a nearly monthly basis (Intel, after all, is kind enough to provide a free air shuttle to all employees for trips to the Valley, and I supervise several team members who are based in the Santa Clara office). So Kepler’s bookstore is once again a big part of my life.


I stopped at Kepler’s most recently a few months ago, to organize a reading near to where many of my friends work in Santa Clara and Palo Alto. I ran into the the wonderful poet Charif Shanahan — we share a publisher and have co-presented at readings before — and it was lovely to catch up with Charif in person. I’m also currently a student at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, so I have more reason to be in Silicon Valley, and I’m hoping to do a reading at Kepler’s soon. Along with the rest of the reading community in the Silicon Valley region, I am excited to see where the Kepler’s Foundation takes the future of this important bookstore.


Kepler’s Books is one of my literary touchstones, and I’m happy to share that bookstore experience with my readers! Enjoy!


Find my books at Kepler’sKeplers Books 




Pinterest – Ned Hayes Bookstore Board
Source: nednote.com/keplers
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text 2018-08-01 10:41
Bookstores: Vroman’s in Pasadena
Read at Vroman’s Bookstore




After living overseas for many years, one of my earliest memories of an American bookstore was in the 1980s, when I first walked into Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena California. The store was a revelation to me — a clean well-lighted place where books were arranged like jewels on shelves, well-read attendants who seemed like upscale librarian/sorcerers to my wondering eyes, and — best of all — a children’s reading section that had all of my favorites readily accessible in untouched hardcover editions. I’d never seen such a magical place where everyone knew how important books were in my life, and uttered their admiration for the same books in quiet loving tones. Vroman’s is southern California’s oldest and largest bookstore, but all I knew at that time was that I had landed in heaven.


In many regards, I grew up as a reader at Vroman’s. I found succor in their shelves and wonder in their book recommendations. In later years, as I frequented second-hand bookstores and went deep into academic tomes, I continued to come back to Vroman’s to continue to relish the experience of books as a pleasure, not a burden or a learning.


The characteristic that is often forgotten in the modern debate over how one buys books — or even what format one reads in — is the fact that the act of being a reader automatically invites you into a community of readers, and bookstores that embrace that reality and further that community become focal points for the reading community. It’s not just about buying books, but about building community.


Vroman’s has never forgotten that truth. In later years, after college, when I moved back to California and began teaching kids on the spectrum (and began thinking about writing my novel The Eagle Tree), I recommended the Vroman’s experience to my students, and it was exciting to see early readers share that singular early experience of walking into the same bookstore I’d loved and experiencing heaven all over again.


In a deeper way, I also came to appreciate Vroman’s nurturance of the bookish community, as I participated in reading groups at the bookstore, and met other readers in my community. I was now finding my reading companions as an adult, again, thanks to Vroman’s gentle guidance. I particularly remember a reading group discussion of a new book by my favorite poet — Mark Strand. Vroman’s book club meeting about Dark Harbor provoked a deep and thoughtful discussion.


I also enjoyed the many literary readings at Vroman’s, and I was excited to see that recently Vroman’s began to embrace indie bestselling authors as well, like my friend (and fellow medieval writer) Kathryn Le Veque whose readings and signings have been stellar successes. Kudos to Vroman’s for embracing the future of author-led publishing!


Vroman’s has a storied history. The original bookstore was founded in 1894 by Adam Clark Vroman. Born in 1856 in La Salle, Illinois, Mr. Vroman moved to Pasadena, California in the late 1800s. Mr. Vroman loved books and loved giving back to his community. He helped to rescue some of the old Franciscan missions from decay, helped establish the Southwest Museum (now part of the Autry Museum), and he was a great supporter of the Pasadena Public Library. When Mr. Vroman died in 1916, he left the bookstore to longtime employees, one of whom was the great grandfather of the current owner.


Vroman’s Bookstore holds an important place in Southern California’s history. For many years, Vroman’s was the largest bookstore west of the Mississippi, and it continues to be the oldest and largest independent bookstore in Southern California. During World War II, Vroman’s donated and delivered books to Japanese Americans interned at nearby camps, returning on several occasions despite being fired upon by camp guards!


Now that I have lived far away from California for many years, I still look back on my early experience at Vroman’s with fondness and with a bookish nostalgia. Bookstores in my mind are always mentally judged against that early Vroman’sexperience. Today, it gives me great pleasure to know that you can find my books on Vroman’s shelves.

If you’re in southern California for the Rose Parade, visiting Disneyland or for any other reason, I’d encourage you to enjoy Vroman’s multiple locations. Through the years, Vroman’s has continued to be an independently owned family business, now consisting of two Vroman’s locations, and two Vroman’s boutiques located at LAX airport. Of course, all their books are also available online at Vroman’s as well.

Vroman’s Bookstore is one of my literary touchstones, and I’m happy to share that bookstore experience with readers like you! Enjoy!




Pinterest – Ned Hayes Bookstore Board
Source: nednote.com/vromans-in-pasadena
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