Kepler’s 2020 launches Community Fundraising Drive to Reinvent Peninsula Cultural Icon
Menlo Park, CA, May 22, 2012 – The Kepler’s 2020 Transition Team today announced the launch of a public fundraising campaign as the critical next step in its plan to reinvent the iconic Peninsula bookstore and develop a new cultural center. The campaign will let all members of the community invest in the future of Kepler’s.
“Everyone loves Kepler’s,” said Praveen Madan, who is leading the project to reinvent the bookstore. “In the last few months, we have heard from thousands of people in our community and they are nearly unanimous that Kepler’s occupies a unique place as the intellectual and cultural hub of our community. Now we’re asking the community’s support to make the new Kepler’s a reality.”
The fundraising campaign has already received commitments of close to $400,000 from prominent Silicon Valley individuals. To keep Kepler’s open and proceed with revitalization, an additional $250,000 from major donors and the general public is required by June 15, with a goal of raising more than $1 million by the end of summer.
The Transition Team, a group of volunteers from the local community and the publishing world, came together in December 2011 as Kepler’s faced certain closure due to mounting debts and losses. Since then, the Transition Team has built a solid foundation for a new Kepler’s, including renegotiating and paying off a large majority of Kepler's old debt without any external funding, and streamlining the store's operations to return it to profitability. The next step is to wind down the current company and then restart it under the hybrid legal structure, invest in new inventory, technology, a new lease, and renovations to complete the bookstore's transition.
"We’re delighted to see our community getting involved to support the Kepler’s 2020 transition,” said Menlo Park Mayor Kirsten Keith. "Kepler's has always been a dynamic gathering place for Menlo Park, as well as a destination bookstore for people from across the Peninsula. I fully support these efforts.”
In reinventing itself, Kepler’s will embrace innovation on many fronts. The bookstore plans to be the first independent bookstore to provide an e-book-friendly, in-store browsing experience. It will also operate under a sustainable business model that includes a community-owned, community-operated bookstore and a related nonprofit organization featuring expanded literary and cultural events. Other programs being considered for the bookstore include: concierge services to provide “literary matchmaking” for customers; book swaps and other activities to bring people of all ages together around their shared love of books; and a speaker’s bureau with readership development services for emerging authors.
Existing programs, such as the successful Literary Circle membership program, will be expanded, and new services and subscription models will be introduced to reduce reliance on revenues from selling print books.
“Our plan for Kepler’s could potentially reinvent the entire bookstore industry and spark a renaissance of culture, for a more informed and engaged citizenry,” said Madan. “The Kepler’s 2020 plan has already received national, and even worldwide, recognition. Independent bookstores from other communities are reaching out to learn more about what we are doing. We plan to share our progress and best practices using an open-source innovation model so that other bookstores can benefit from our efforts here.”
Project leader Madan is a former management consultant and high-tech executive who became a literary entrepreneur in 2007 when he and his wife and business partner, Christin Evans, acquired and transformed the independent Booksmith bookstore in San Francisco. In 2009 he teamed-up with Cody’s Books’ long-term events director Melissa Mytinger to launch the Booksmith-affiliated speaker series, Berkeley Arts & Letters.
For more information about the Kepler’s 2020 plan and ways to donate, visit www.keplers2020.com.
About Kepler’s Bookstore
Founded in 1956, Kepler’s has been deeply entrenched in the local community. Since 2005 when it was saved from closing by the community, the bookstore has sold approximately two million books; generated $33 million in revenue; and paid $3 million in sales tax, most of which has gone back to the local community. During that time, this beloved bookstore has held approximately 1500 author events and raised more than $200,000 for 120 neighborhood schools and nonprofit organizations. Noted authors including Amy Sedaris, Caroline Kennedy, George R.R. Martin, and Rick Riordan have sold out ticketed events attended by over 1,400 people each, to help support Family and Children Services, Breast Cancer Connections, and the Peninsula College Fund.
With Clark Kepler’s retirement early this year and the ensuing transition, Kepler’s is stepping up to a new level of community engagement and sustainability. For additional information or to donate, visit www.keplers2020.com.
We've launched our community fundraising campaign.
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