Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Board, patrons group launch plan to reopen Kepler's Books

From MercuryNews:

Board, patrons group launch plan to reopen Kepler's Books
By Renee KouryMercury News

Kepler's Books of Menlo Park, the popular independent book seller that shut down abruptly in August, is hoping to reopen by October with financial support from patrons and business expertise from a new board of directors, including three Silicon Valley executives.

The new board retains Kepler's heir and owner Clark Kepler as president, CEO and chairman of the board of the 50-year-old Menlo Park institution which became known regionally as one of the premier independent bookstores in the Bay Area.

Kepler's closing on Aug. 31 prompted a public outcry, with loyal patrons staging a rally and pledging to help the store reopen.

But reopening the store is contingent on negotiating a new lease with Kepler's landlord, the Tan Group. Supporters contend Kepler's was paying too much in rent at a rate set during the economic boom of the late 1990s.

Other board members are Daniel Mendez of Menlo Park, co-founder of Visto Corp., a wireless technology company in Redwood City; Geoff Ralston, chief product officer at Yahoo; and Bruce Dunlevie, general partner at the Menlo Park-based Benchmark Capital. All three have been devoted patrons of the bookstore. Mendez said he bicycled with his children each weekend to the store.

Kepler's will name a fifth board member with experience in the book industry.

A Patron's Circle, with 17 core members so far, has pledged an undisclosed amount of financial support.
Kepler's hopes to open no later than October to capture holiday sales and retain its staff.

During its 50 years, Kepler's became known for its frequent author events and as a haven for progressive ideas, where the likes of Jerry Garcia and Joan Baez would visit.


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