|The Kepler's 2020 Project|
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. When will the bookstore open again?
A. It's open now! We are open currently from 10am - 5pm each day and will be increasing hours throughout the month.
Q. What is Kepler’s 2020?
A. Kepler’s 2020 is a project that aims to build a completely new business model for independent bookstores. This model will preserve and expand what people treasure about the experience of visiting a physical bookstore while acknowledging and adapting to the challenges of modern book selling.
Q. Why are bookstores worth saving?
A. Online bookstores have thoroughly disrupted the bookselling industry with their vast catalogs, low prices, and digital offerings. When you know exactly what you want, an online retailer is a very efficient way to get it. What they aren’t as good at is serendipity. Anyone who loves books can tell you about the gem they picked up while they were browsing at a bookstore—a staff pick, a personal recommendation, or just a happy find. Bookstores also continue to excel at providing a community around writing and reading—author events, book clubs, and literary gatherings. Anyone who values a life of the mind is probably a regular at their local bookstore.
Q. Is Kepler’s 2020 just trying to shore up a print medium that's on its way to extinction in a world of e-books?
A. No! We are well aware that 75% of independent bookstores have gone out of business, so new business models and approaches are needed -- it is no longer possible to succeed by stocking print books on the shelves and awaiting buyers.
Recognizing that Silicon Valley is rich with early adopters, the re-invented Kepler's will provide people with many ways to purchase what they want to read through multiple media: whether by downloading an e-book, taking advantage of new publishing-on-demand capabilities, or, yes, buying a plain old paperback, hardback or periodical. We envision future author events at which downloads of e-books outpace sales of hard copy books. Creating an e-book-friendly in-store browsing experience is one important change among several improvements that we are already planning. The spirit of Kepler's will remain, but many experiments will be tried to find the right combination to sustainably support Kepler's into the future.
Q. What is the new model that Kepler’s 2020 is proposing?
A. Kepler’s Books is currently a for-profit bookstore that uses book sales to subsidize author readings and community events. While the Kepler’s 2020 Transition Team will be working out the details of the model over the next few months, we are envisioning a hybrid consisting of a community-owned bookstore that focuses on curating and retailing books and a nonprofit that focuses on events.
Q. Why is this model better?
A. Splitting off the community events into a dedicated nonprofit will allow both pieces of Kepler’s to grow stronger. Without the need to subsidize events the retail piece can run more profitably, while nonprofit status will allow the events piece to seek tax-deductible funding from corporate and individual donors.
Q. How long will this project take?
A. We anticipate that finalizing and transitioning to the new model will take 6-9 months.
Q. Is Kepler’s Books changing its name to Kepler’s 2020?
A. No, Kepler’s 2020 is what we are calling the process we are undertaking to envision the bookstore of the future.
Q. Will Kepler's still be located next to Cafe Barrone?
A. The store has no plans to move and has signed a new lease with the landlords to stay in the space.
Q. How will Clark Kepler's retirement as Kepler's CEO affect Kepler's 2020?
A. Clark Kepler, whose father Roy Kepler founded the bookstore in 1955, is a member of the Kepler’s 2020 team and will remain on as Chairman of the Board of Kepler's.
Q. Who is taking over for Clark Kepler?
A. At the beginning of July Kepler's officially transitioned ownership from Clark Kepler to Praveen Madan. He and his wife, successful book entrepreneur Christin Evans, are currently running the store alongside the dedicated Kepler's staff.
Q. How has Kepler's helped the community?
A. Since 2005, Kepler's has sold 2 million books, generated $33 million in revenue, and paid $3 million in sales tax, most of which has gone back to our local community. Also during that time, our beloved bookstore raised more than $200,000 for 120 neighborhood schools and nonprofit orgaizations, and held approximately 1,500 author events. Noted authors have included John Green, Amy Sedaris, Caroline Kennedy, and George R. R. Martin.
Q. How can I help with the project?
A. For now the best way is to contribute to our community fundraising drive. We are looking to raise $1 million dollars before the end of summer and are already up to $350,000 in commitments. You can also sign up for our email list and follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on what’s going on with the project. And of course, we’d love to hear from you, so drop us a line!
Q. How are you using the funds from your community fundraising drive?
A. We are incorporating feedback from the community to make improvements that will make your bookstore even better. First and foremost, we are increasing the inventory to provide book lovers more options and a richer browsing experience. We are also improving our behind-the-scenes technology and renovating the space to enhance customer service and the in-store environment. In addition, we have used some of the funds to launch our arts-and-culture nonprofit in order to bring you more and better programming.
Q. How's the transition of Kepler's going?
A. A lot has been accomplished since the transition team convened in December:
Q. Why is my donation not tax-deductible?
A. Donations to a for-profit organization are not tax-deductible. Our immediate goal is help secure the future of the Kepler's for-profit bookstore as the bookstore is going to help anchor and launch the new non-profit. We will offer additional opportunities in the future regarding tax-deductible contributions to the new non-profit organization.
Q. When is Kepler's going to become a community-owned bookstore?
A. We plan to do a stock offering within the next year to make Kepler's the country's first truly community-owned bookstore.
Q. Who is Praveen Madan and what's his role at Kepler's?
A. Praveen Madan is a former strategy consultant who in 2007 bought The Booksmith in San Francisco with his wife Christin Evans. They have transformed The Booksmith into a successful, vibrant, and profitable cultural hub. Their store has become one of the most successful in the country, with 26% year-over-year growth and they have been winning many awards and public recognition for their work in reinventing a community bookstore to thrive even in the shadow of Amazon.
When Kepler's Board was considering shutting down Kepler’s at the end of 2011 they reached out to Praveen to seek his help. Praveen decided that Kepler's could be saved but it had to be transformed into a new hybrid and sustainable business model. He assembled the Transition Team of community champions and began putting in long hours on a volunteer basis to lead the transition project. At the end of June Praveen transitioned to CEO of Kepler's.
We've launched our community fundraising campaign.
Click below to help Kepler's write its new chapter!