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Paperback Dreams 2009 NR

(5) IMDb 7.2/10

In a time of increasing competition from mega-chains and online retailers, many local businesses are fighting for survival. Through the tumultuous story of two beloved Bay Area booksellers, Cody's and Kepler's, PAPERBACK DREAMS captures the David and

Starring:
Joan Baez II, Clark Kepler
Runtime:
57 minutes

Product Details

Genres Documentary
Director Alex Beckstead
Starring Joan Baez II, Clark Kepler
Supporting actors Gabriel Marin, Ralph Nader, Andy Ross, Salman Rushdie
Studio Koch Entertainment Distribution
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 18, 2008
Format: DVD
Paperback Dreams, a documentary funded by San Francisco Public TV station KQED and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was broadcast on PBS stations in October and November 2008. We were unable to see it on TV and bought the DVD instead. This turned out to be quite an advantage for us, because we spent almost 90 minutes watching this hour-long documentary, due to stopping the DVD repeatedly to discuss, reminisce, and analyze what we were watching.

A few years ago, two landmark bookstores in the Bay Area closed. One was Cody's in Berkeley, the other was Kepler's in Menlo Park. Each was established in the 1950s as a counterculture bookstore and meeting place for students, philosophers, and other people with ideas. It was no coincidence that they sprang up near major universities: Cody's a few blocks from UC Berkeley and Kepler's a little over a mile from Stanford.

When Cody's closed, hundreds of people showed up to say goodbye to the store and to owner Andy Ross, and to take advantage of the clearance sale. When Kepler's closed without warning, the community rallied to find a way to finance its re-opening. Kepler's remains open three years later and no one is taking it for granted.

While Paperback Dreams examines the history of the two bookstores and independent bookstores in general, the most interesting and important questions the documentary asks is why are independent bookstores unable to flourish today. There are lots of interviews with Andy Ross, Clark Kepler, Pat Cody (an original owner of Cody's), Michael Powell of Powell's Books in Portland, and other booksellers and writers.

The easy answer is that big box bookstores and online booksellers have killed the independent bookstore. Certainly many of the people interviewed think so.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gerard D. Launay on December 18, 2009
Format: DVD
Perhaps it is a bit ironic that I am writing a review in favor of the independent bookstore on an Amazon website..when Amazon is clearly one of the factors that is making these booksellers disappear. I see the independent bookstore as an essential part of a community - like the neighborhood Italian restaurant or family doctor.

This film is a story of the rise and fall of two bookstores in the San Francisco Bay Area...one near Stanford and one near U.C. Berkeley. As someone who has lived in the area for more than 30 years, I actually have personal knowledge of both these independents. And certainly one of the wonderful things that they have done is to bring some of the most vibrant authors in America to the public at a minimal cost...to us. Often that has made me want to purchase something I would otherwise never have discovered.

As the movie shows...the independent bookstores came into being when the average man on the street and certainly the average college student - read, read, and read. It was the golden age of paperbacks. Owning books, even the great books, was within everyone's budget. Ideas were everything. Alas, the demise of the independent bookstore is not the result of just big box competitors. I believe it is caused by the terrible fact that less and less people read - seriously. Instead, they fawn over meaningless television and become fixed to their computer screens.

So the message of the film is: "Read - Discuss - Think." Please support your independent booksellers. In preserving these landmarks and buying locally, all of us can save these vital links of our democracy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Araquém Silva on February 5, 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I grew-up in Menlo Park (CA), and was a frequent buyer at Kepler's Books. In fact, I invited Mr. Roy Kepler to speak about pacifism in my history class at Menlo-Atherton High School. Also I would travel to San Francisco to visit City Lights, and Cody's in Berkeley. This was a great trio in my vicinity. "Paperback Dreams" covers the travails of Kepler's and Cody's, but unfortunately excludes City Lights. Watching this documentary makes one sentimental, full of nostalgia about those wonderful bookstores. I don't know where America is heading, with the authorities unsympathetic about those small businesses that made places like the San Francisco Bay Area a community of readers of books not found in chain stores. I'm glad to have purchased this documentary, and want the opportunity to show it to my daughters. However, I felt terrible about the predicament of these bookstores, because I suspect they face a survival battle they cannot win. Soon the book store chains will also disappear, and the browsing and carousing of books will become an avatar. In this regard, Paperback Dreams are sad dreams because it's unlikely that these dedicated bookstores will survive even in niche markets.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steve Ramm TOP 100 REVIEWER on January 31, 2010
Format: DVD
I missed this well done hour-long documentary when it aired inj PBS so was glad to see it on DVD. (Besides there are some nice bonus features that wouldn't have aired on PBS. Details on those are on another review posted here.)

The film focuses on the second owners of two bookstores in the Bay area - one in San Francisco; the other in Berkeley. So those in the Bay Area will definitely want to get this - even if they have seen it on TV. There are comments from one of the largest Independents - Powell's Books in Seattle. And the publishers are represented too.

While the underlying message of the film is that big stores like Borders and Barnes & Noble will cause the demise of the locally owned store, we are learning in the daily newspapers that its on-line stores like Amazon and big-box stores like Wal-mart that are forcing Borders to close many stores and lay off staffs.

The film is definitely food for thought and the author readings in the supplemental material are a nice bonus.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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