Dear Friends, We want to thank you all for your part over the years in the grand and humble project that is Fields Book Store. The year 2013 will be a year of transition for us.
We want to thank you all for your part over the years in the grand and humble project that is Fields Book Store. The year 2013 will be a year of transition for us.
David Wiegleb, Heidi Geyer, and Esther Fishman
Beginning in January we will start winding down the physical manifestation of Fields Book Store at 1419 Polk Street after 80 years. The spirit of the store will continue in our virtual home at www.FieldsBooks.com, which has helped keep the physical store going these past five years.
Fields Book Store is currently San Francisco's oldest continually operating bookstore in its original location, having been founded by George Fields in 1932. It has passed through a number of hands over the years, most notably Ruth Hill Cooke, and which has been my honor and privilege to steer through these parlous times over the past twelve years. It will be both my privilege and challenge to guide the store into its next incarnation. I've been blessed with having a wonderful and dedicated staff in Heidi Geyer and Esther Fishman (now at Stanford University Bookstore). Deep thanks to Shelley Masters, who gifted us with her vision and talents in the gorgeous ceiling mural that has graced our store since our 75th Anniversary. Grateful thanks to Todd Pratum, owner of Owl & Company Book Store on Piedmond Ave in Oakland (another local treasure that deserves your support), for filling our shelves with many esoteric rarities over the years, and for his help on many other ways. And a huge "thank you" to my wife Ellen Francik, who apprenticed at the store to learn the trade before I bought it and who has been an invaluable support to me in every possible way since.
In some ways San Francisco will not be the same without Fields. We've been holding down this little storefront since five years before the Golden Gate Bridge was built. San Francisco has changed in many ways over the years, some for the better, some not. I've watched a number of small cultural treasures disappear from the neighborhood, including many bookstores. And Fields will certainly not be the same without San Francisco. But change we must.
The reasons this change was necessary are many -- some of them economic, some in the publishing industry, some technological, some cultural, and especially the increasing monopolization of the marketplace by larger and larger corporations. Fortunately, we were not pushed out by huge rent increases. The decision was ours to make. Ultimately the bottom line comes down to the bottom line -- revenues did not meet expenses for quite a number of years, even after cutting back wherever we could.
A few things you can do...
We are still ordering new titles and old favorites for the duration, so we hope you will visit us for your holiday shopping. We're more than happy to special order books for you -- we can get books in all subjects, most in only two days. We order on Wednesday and Sunday evenings, and if you want to call ahead, we can give you timelines on exactly when your book would be expected to arrive.
Since we soon won't be seeing your smiling faces in person, we ask for something to remember you by. We've set up an email address at ThankYou@FieldsBooks.com . We'd like to request that friends of the store send photo self-portraits to the address with a favorite book they found at Fields, or holding a written message. Please include your name as you would like it to be listed and what city you're in. Include a story if you like. We're putting together a photo gallery of everyone to remember all you fine people who made this all possible. We're linking to the gallery FieldsBooks.Tumblr.com from our website and from our page on Facebook, so you'll all get to meet each other too, and perhaps find some book recommendations from each other. (We hope to get something set up soon to take portraits of people in the store as well, and accept handwritten messages and stories that we can scan.)
We will be making much more use of our email newsletter in the future. If you haven't signed up for it yet, you can do so on the left-hand side of our front page. We will be sending updates about new releases, catalogs of rarities, and we hope to be announcing collaborative book events in San Francisco and elsewhere around the Bay.
So, we'll need to pass the baton of "San Francisco's oldest brick-and-mortar bookstore" to someone else, as it was passed to us. I think it goes next to that beatnik youngster over in North Beach, City Lights, founded in 1953 -- certainly one of San Francisco's treasures. While we hope that Fields can continue to serve you on our website for many years to come, I urge you to also support your local brick and mortar stores as well. Each time we lose one, we lose a bit more of the fabric and texture of our cities and towns. The low prices of the mega-stores -- real and virtual -- have a very high cost. Make your purchases consciously whenever you can.
We hope you will continue to be a part of Fields in our virtual store. In addition to the website, we will be retaining our phone number as well, so those without computers will still be able to reach us. Once the dust settles, we will be looking to buy esoteric libraries, collections, and individual titles. So, please do keep in touch.
And thank you again for making this all possible. I am profoundly grateful.
David Wiegleb, owner of Fields Book Store