S E C T I O N
Community S TO R I E S A B O U T P E O P L E A N D E V E N T S I N T H E C O M M U N I T Y
SEPTEMBER 19, 2012
Kepler’s finds key to future in its past By Sandy Brundage
racks, tables — the bricks are portable. The flexibility of furniture allows staff to change the epler’s Books and Maga- store layout on the fly, making zines has a new look it easier to host intimate book — and that look may club events or marquee events, awaken memories of its radical Ms. Evans explained, or create roots. The store, which struggled new subject sections, if, say, to survive during recent years, books about zombies suddenly may have found new life by turn- get big. ing to its past. The new has a place along“We’re bringing Roy (Kepler) side the old. Audiobooks and back, bringing back a sense of e-books offered in different radical integrity,” said manager formats will have dedicated secAmanda Hall as she kept an eye tions, although they may not on the work in progress, conver- be fully ready when the store sation punctuated by construc- reopens by the end of Septemtion noise. “We want people ber. to walk in and feel like they’ve The impact of the Future come home.” Search event held in July was The Almanac dropped by for clear. “It gave us permission a tour on Sept. 14 to see what’s to put more of Roy Kepler into changed since Kepler’s tem- the store,” Ms. Evans said. Over porarily closed two time, the radicalism months earlier for of early Kepler’s gave renovation. way to the “docile Iconic Staff working to decades.” according bookstore redesign the store to those attending discovered a treasure unveils new Future Search, and trove of emblematic now the trend may ‘old’ look. textures, fonts and be reversed. colors stored since The changes the early days, said are more than skin Christin Evans, who is now in deep. The new Kepler’s, while charge of store operations. “We staying at 1010 El Camino wanted to bring back the feel of Real, is smaller: 6,440 square those days.” Reaching under a feet now, down from 10,000 portable bookshelf, she tugged square feet. And somehow the out a piece of old vinyl used smaller store is going to accomfor flooring at one point in the modate more books. “We’re store’s past — black with streaks trying to figure out if we have of white — then described how space for them all,” Mr. Madan painters will mimic the look for said, laughing. The idea is the new floor. more books in better displays Ms. Evans pointed out mul- to encourage browsing as a ticolored bricks bearing words “physical experience.” such as “cooking” in old-school He described the budget as fonts scattered around the “shoestring.” A community shelves. Like many other features fundraising campaign brought of the store — chairs, magazine in approximately $760,000, with Almanac Staff Writer
Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac
Kepler’s store manager Amanda Hall, right, and transition team member Lee Moncton measure a new layout for the bookstore, which will reopen with a larger inventory of books in a smaller retail space.
about half of that spent on preparing the store to get back into the bookselling business. While he expects the number of employees to remain about the same, their duties will have changed. Staff will be crosstrained to work in any area of the store, ensuring that they all get time to talk to customers, rather than being cloistered by job. “It’s a lean model that we fine-tuned at Booksmith,” Mr. Madan said, referring to the independent bookstore he and his wife own in San Francisco. As wife Christin focuses on store operations, Mr. Madan
will take over the nonprofit events portion of the business, which for the time being will remain on site. “We’re not ready to take on a large lease obligation yet,” he said. Running a nonprofit within the bookstore has “a lot of do’s and don’ts” per IRS regulations, but Kepler’s is looking to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for guidance. Speaking of events: Most will now be free. Charging dilutes the utility of exposing the public to new authors and results in smaller audience, according to Mr. Madan. “We felt it was doing a disservice.” But for blockbuster events such as the
upcoming Sept. 25 conversation between Salman Rushdie and Tobias Wolff — “We can charge a little bit for that.” Menlo Park can’t wait for the store to reopen, judging by the amount of work contributed by volunteers as Kepler’s prepares for the changes — some spent hours helping to take inventory; others, like audiobook expert Lee Moncton, are contributing knowledge. Visitors keep dropping by to take a look at the renovation in progress. Even Clark Kepler has been spotted. “He said, ‘Get better chairs!” Mr. Madan recalled, and grinned. A
Committee for Green Foothills celebrates 50th anniversary The Committee for Green Foothills is inviting the public to help celebrate its 50th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 23, with an afternoon gathering at Runnymede Farm at 980 Runnymede Road in Woodside. Rarely open to the public, this 100-acre farm has an extensive collection of sculptures by noteworthy artists such as ceramicist Jun Kaneko and sculptors Viola Frey and Andy Goldsworthy.
The four-hour celebration begins at 2:30 p.m. and includes “scrumptious food” and remarks by American West scholar and author Jon Christensen and author Lynn Stegner. Space is limited and individual tickets begin at $125. Go to tinyurl.com/CGF-777 for more information.
Film on work of Martin Litton The film, “The Good Fight: