Reimagining Bookstores

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How can we reimagine bookstores… to deepen literacy, strengthen our communities, and pay decent living wages to our employees?

About this event

Imagine bookstores with new ways to engage their communities, easy access to funding and new business models. Now imagine these bookstores having strategies to increase readership, attract and retain high-caliber staff, and provide meaningful careers paying meaningful wages. Through these bookstores our communities deepen literacy, increase civic engagement, and become stronger.

If you can imagine this scenario, then it is time to embrace bookstores as a social cause. It is time to invest in bookstores so they have the means to strengthen and reinvent themselves. We seek to launch a movement to encourage a new wave of investments in bookstores similar to the investments that have historically been made in public libraries, museums, public radio and television, and non-profit journalism and literacy organizations.

To create this transformational change, we need you!

We invite you to dream and collaborate together - to reimagine and transform America’s bookstores into next-generation community bookstores, to help literary entrepreneurs open new bookstores in book deserts, and to help bookstores strengthen their place in the hearts of their communities as thriving centers for ideas and conversations.

What outcomes can participants anticipate?

- Discover and share new ideas and insights

- Develop new relationships and strengthen existing ones

- Clarify opportunities and challenges

- Agree on what’s needed, what we can do together, and how we can help each other

- Identify ways to get involved and stay involved

- Expand the dream, identify the potential and coalesce a movement

Why this invitation?

We are inviting you to a virtual gathering organized using the principles of Open Space. Open Space is a well known format geared to inspiring stimulating conversations, exciting innovations, new thinking, and unusual collaborations. You will set the agenda based on what you care about and the questions you have. Zoom’s breakout rooms create spaces for small group conversations to develop ideas and connect with each other. You and other participants can explore different groups and topics throughout the event.


Two sessions: 12-3pm Pacific Time on Monday October 18 and 9am-12pm Pacific Time on Tuesday October 19. You are encouraged to join both sessions but may participate in either.

Why are we inviting you?

We are inviting you because you are passionate about the role of books and bookstores as civic and community institutions. We seek to create a network of people ready to take on systemic transformation through ideas, connections, and resources to pursue a vision none of us can achieve alone. We are eager for partners in this quest.

Who’s coming?

We seek to bring together the “whole system” of people who care about community bookstores, including bookstore employees / owners/ leaders, readers, writers, publishers, donors, impact investors, media, partners, organizations working on literacy, and others.

Who’s hosting this gathering?

These leading bookstores are co-hosting the gathering:

27th Letter Books, Detroit, MI; Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA; Bluestockings Cooperative, NY, NY; Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC; BookSmart, Morgan Hill, CA; Booksmith, San Francisco, CA; Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca, NY; Capital Books on K, Sacramento, CA; Cavalier House Books, Denham Springs, LA; Charis Books & More/Charis Circle, Decatur, GA; Dog Ear Books, Russellville, AR; Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC; Gallery Bookshop, Mendocino, CA; Kepler's Books, Menlo Park, CA; Linden Tree Books, Los Altos, CA; Point Reyes Books, Point Reyes Station, CA; Rediscovering Books, Boise, ID; Seminary Co-op Bookstores, Chicago, IL; the river's end bookstore, Oswego, NY; Third Place Books, Seattle, WA; Tubby & Coo's, New Orleans, LA; Two Rivers Bookstore, Portland, OR; watchung booksellers, Montclair, NJ; and Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria, Washington Heights, NYC.

Additional co-hosts:

Berrett-Koehler Publishers; Publishers Weekly; Shelf Awareness, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA).

If your organization is interested in becoming a co-host, please contact

Who’s organizing this gathering?

Praveen Madan is obsessed with a strong and exciting future for bookstores. He has successfully led Kepler’s from the brink of closure to becoming one of the most innovative and thriving bookstores in the country. He has been informally advising bookstores and their community champions on new sustainable models.

Michelle Ferrier, Ph.D., is executive director of the Media Innovation Collaboratory, a think-do tank for imagining a robust, inclusive media ecosystem. She is a scholar, educator and activist around local community information needs and a doula for birthing new futures.

Sono Hashisaki works with municipal, county, state, federal, and tribal governments to develop collaborative partnerships and projects. She designs and facilitates meetings using conversational processes including Open Space Technology, World Café, Appreciative Inquiry, and Peacemaking Circles.

Peggy Holman supports diverse groups in facing complex issues by turning presentation into conversation and passivity into participation. In The Change Handbook, Holman & her co-authors profile 61 practices that engage people in creating their desired future. Her award-winning Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval into Opportunity provides a roadmap for tackling complex challenges through stories, principles, and practices. Holman is a co-founder of Journalism That Matters, a nonprofit that supports and equips the adventurers who transform relationships between communities and journalism for a strong, inclusive democracy.

Sandra Janoff is one of the top experts in the world on transformation of whole systems, the co-founder and director of Future Search Network, and an author. Sandra facilitated Kepler’s Future Search in 2012 and has been one of the core advisors for Kepler’s transformation.

Evan Karp is the founding director of Quiet Lightning and the events manager for Booksmith and Berkeley Arts & Letters. He’s written literary columns for the San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, SF Weekly, SF/Arts & The Rumpus, and his nonfiction and poetry have appeared widely in print and online. Evan combines music, words & other sounds as Turk & Divis, with his brother Miles, and with Maw Shein Win as Vata & the Vine. He is the humanities advisor for the San Francisco Institute of Possibility.

Jyo Maan lives to co-create communities of social learning, meaningful connections in work and at life through trauma informed emergent facilitation, social innovation and leadership development. Redesigning structures in freedom for exploration by understanding the complexities of social dynamics, relying heavily on emotional, social and spiritual intelligence she weaves the hearts and minds of humans at large. She thrives in finding meaning in uncertainty, adaptability and conscious emergence. She affiliates to both the worlds of old paradigms and the new transformative systems to transpire belonging through the divide in her life's experiences. It is with hope and aspiration that she facilitates spaces for all stories of belonging to see the light of the day and inspire the future generations to come.

Ben Roberts has been convening and hosting both in-person and virtual conversations on a regular basis since March 2009, when he began leading a local weekly discussion salon in Newtown, CT. He has extensive experience adapting large group conversational processes such as World Cafe, Open Space Technology and Appreciative Inquiry to the virtual realm, as well as integrating in-person and virtual formats within a single conversation, gathering or engagement. He uses these processes to support collaboration, build communities of practice and purpose, and host large scale conversations in service to the work being done across multiple dimensions of local-to-global systemic transformation.

Nancy White is a lifelong learner and practitioner of online and offline group process, and a bunch of other stuff, because she is always curious. Chocoholic, grandma and gardener. Blogs occasionally at

A former tax lawyer who chose to re-invent a career as a book editor/consultant, managing editor and free-lance writer, Paul Wright has served on the board of directors of Berrett-Koehler Pubishers and is currently a member of the board of the Berrett-Koehler Foundation. Paul has intersecting interests in communication, building community, the collaborative process and exploring pathways to thinking about large-scale complex problems.

Henry J. Zatarain is providing multimedia support for this gathering. After graduating from Yale University with a degree in Film and Media Studies, he became a bookseller and later an Operations Manager at Kepler's. He is committed to ensuring a prosperous future for bookstores everywhere.

And you… Yes, we would like you to invite others who care about reimagining bookstores and might have something to contribute.


How can bookstores take charge of their own destiny, work with all their stakeholders, and strive towards a bold and exciting future? Will communities step up to help fund and govern their bookstores to maximize their social and community benefits? Will employees of bookstores see this is an opportunity and a challenge and roll up their sleeves to help? We think they can and they are already starting to do so. But this is a huge transformation and bookstores and communities are going to need a lot of help. We hope you will join us on Oct 18-19 to lend a hand.

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