Kepler’s 2020 transition team, a group of community leaders led by literary entrepreneur Praveen Madan, co-owner of Booksmith in San Francisco, announced that it is moving forward with remaking the iconic Silicon Valley bookstore, which was in danger of closing. The project, which has already received commitments of close to $400,000 from individuals to keep the store open, is seeking an additional $250,000 from major donors and the general public by June 15. The final target is more than $1 million by the end of the summer.
In the intervening months since the team took over Kepler’s last December, it has begun renegotiating and paying off a majority of the store’s old debt and streamlining store operations to return it to profitability. Clark Kepler, who retired from overseeing day-to-day operations, remains very much a part of the process as a member of the team and chairman of the board.
The next step in the transition will be to wind down the current company and restart Kepler’s under a hybrid legal structure with new inventory, technology, and renovations. As part of the store’s reinvention, Kepler’s will become the first independent bookstore to provide an e-book-friendly, in-store browsing experience and e-book downloads at author events. The store will be community-owned and operated. A related nonprofit organization will run, and expand on, its literary and cultural events. Kepler's Literary Circle membership program will be expanded, while new services and subscription models will be introduced to reduce reliance on selling print books.
“Our plan for Kepler’s could potentially reinvent the entire book industry and spark a renaissance of culture,” said Madan. “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.”
For more information on the project or to donate, go to www.keplers2020.com.