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Hungry Mind Becomes Ruminator Books
Kevin Howell -- 1/31/00

What's in a name? Historically, reputation and recognition; more recently, commerce. Last year, when David Unowsky decided to sell the name "Hungry Mind" to the cyber university HungryMinds.com, it meant relinquishing the name of his 30-year-old bookstore as well as the Hungry Mind Review and Hungry Mind Press (News, Nov. 8, 1999). On January 20, Unowsky invited hundreds of guests to the unveiling of the store's new name: Ruminator Books. The name was chosen by a customer.

"I think the definition says it all -- a bookstore that entices one to muse, consider and chew over literary works," wrote the customer. "Plus, I like the Commando/Schwarzenegger overtones -- like I'm saving the world in a sexy, glitzy way by reading a good book!"

The new name will also affect the press (now also called Ruminator Books) and the review (now Ruminator Review). The Web site (www.hungrymind.com) will be active until April 1, when the name will roll over to the new owner; www.ruminator. com is already active. In March, the Ruminator Books press will put out its first title, Nellie Stone Johnson: The Life of an Activist by David Brauer, an as-told-to autobiography of a 94-year-old African-American political activist.

The store received more than 500 suggestions from customers for a new store name and had long brainstorming sessions with a PR firm. Some of the discarded names included Famished Brain, Cortical Cravings, Dave's Books & Bait, Lost Our Name Books, the Read Menace, Skeptic Tank and Vernacular. "I used to wake up in the middle of every night with names and jot them down. And then in the morning they'd look stupid," Unowsky told PW. He selected the name with five other members of the bookstore's staff. The chosen name was actually a late submission after the staff had narrowed the field.

While Unowsky is excited about the new name, he said the renaming process reminded him that relationships are more important than names. "I was convinced that whatever name we chose wouldn't be the most crucial thing about us. We'd spent 29 years building relationships with our store -- brick by brick, book by book and relationship by relationship. That foundation is already there."

Although there was no formal contest, the customer who suggested the new name will receive a complete set of books published by the former Hungry Mind Press, baseball tickets, a free lunch at the restaurant adjacent to the bookstore and a gift certificate to the store.

Now that the renaming is complete, Unowsky is relieved but not quite settled. "Every time I hear something, I think, 'Oh, what a great name for a bookstore!' " He laughed. "That will be happening for me for years."
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