On Wednesday, May 6, at 1:00 p.m. ET, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance will host the webinar “Kepler’s and the Future of Independent Bookstores.” Members of all regions are invited to attend; booksellers should email SIBA Assistant Executive Director Linda-Marie Barrett for the Zoom link. Here’s what SIBA shared about the event:
As many stores around the country are struggling for survival during the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic, now might be a good time, as challenging as it is, to look at the current business model of independent bookstores and ask: Do we want to go back to the old model or could we start imagining and building a better future for independent bookstores and people who are committed to them? Could we do some things differently going forward?
We will hear from the CEO and management team at Kepler’s, a world-famous bookstore based in Menlo Park, California. Eight years ago, the Kepler’s team decided to chart a bold new course and engaged their community to transform Kepler’s into a Next Generation Bookstore. Many didn’t believe their audacious goals — paying living wages, building a strong financial foundation, and Amazon-proofing their business. They will share their journey, their approach, their results, how they are faring during the current crisis, and their plans for the future. A Q&A will follow their presentation.
About the presenters:
Praveen Madan: Praveen stumbled into bookselling in 2007 believing that bookstores had to be reinvented. He has loved books and bookstores since his days growing up in India. He was craving a meaning and purpose that he wasn’t finding in his corporate career so he picked a cause he believed in. At the time he thought it would take him two to three years to figure it all out. Thirteen years later, he thinks he is finally on the right track but still has a lot of work ahead of him. He became the CEO of Kepler’s in 2012.
Amanda Hall: Amanda is the general manager of Kepler’s. A former small-business owner from Chicago, she has channeled her retail knowledge and passion for books into Kepler’s new mission-based model that supports community engagement, sustainability, and staff welfare. She has a BS in Journalism from Northwestern University and a master’s in social work from the University of Illinois.
Jean Forstner: Jean is the co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit Kepler’s Literary Foundation. She is a community leader with strong experience working with schools and nonprofits, building partnerships, and producing cultural and literary programs. Previously, she served as California State Director to U.S. Senator Alan Cranston. She is a graduate of Stanford University.