Kepler's was a famously independent, politically progressive small bookstore on the San Francisco Peninsula. The founder, Roy Kepler, proved to reluctant booksellers that there could be a profit selling paperbacks, then the stepchildren of the publishing world. He also was not shy about advertising his convictions. A 50th anniversary retrospective published by a Palo Alto community newspaper last year reported:
Roy Kepler was eventually succeeded by his son, Clark, in management of the enterprise; the younger Kepler focused on the business of bookselling and brought the store through many of the challenges that bedevil independent booksellers -- until today.
The takeover of print publishing by media conglomerates more interested in the bottom line that the quality of writing, internet book retailing, new media forms like this one that compete for the attention of potential book readers -- all these are killing independent booksellers. Clark Kepler's final letter tells the story:
Many years ago, when my partner and I were young and poor, our idea of a major diversion was to drive out of the city and spend a couple of hours browsing in Kepler's -- it was a kind of mini-vacation. It is hard to get that sense of going away from browsing the internet. Today I am sad for those who will miss out on it.
UPDATE: 11:00pm, 9/2/05 -- It seems investors, landlords and readers are making a last ditch effort to save the store, according to the Palo Alto Almanac.
UPDATE: 10/03/05 Great news. The Mercury News says Keplers has been saved and will reopen October 8. See also here.