Thomas Peele comes to Diesel, Oakland


Last night we hosted Thomas Peele and Martin Reynolds, in dialogue about Peele's new book, Killing The Messenger. Look for the full reading, to air on Book TV within the next two weeks. 




About the book: On the morning of August 2, 2007, journalist Chauncey Bailey was walking to his office at the Oakland Post, a weekly newspaper. As he reached the corner of 14th and Alice streets in downtown Oakland, a masked gunman ran up to Bailey and shot him at point blank range.  Investigating police would soon uncover the motive behind Bailey’s shocking murder: it was ordered by Yusef Bey IV, leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery, and was intended to stop Bailey's forthcoming story on the organization.

Outraged by Bailey's murder, a group of California journalists banded together to finish his work. Known as the Chauncey Bailey Project, this group of reporters and editors has worked together to see that justice for Bailey is served and his work completed. In Killing the Messenger, award-winning investigative reporter Thomas Peele provides the first comprehensive narrative examination of Bailey's murder, and finally brings the whole, tragic story to light.


Diesel Loves You.


 --Just in case you had any doubts--


Travel Dispatch: The 7th ABA Winter Institute

Much to my surprise and elation, I was this year's recipient of the Glenn Goldman scholarship to the annual independent bookseller's conference, The Winter Institute. For those of you not familiar with Glenn Goldman, he was the owner of Book Soup on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. When he passed away in 2009, a scholarship was established in his name so that eligible Southern California booksellers could apply in the hopes of winning an opportunity to attend The Winter Institute. This conference is conducted by the ABA, The American Booksellers Association, whose sole purpose is to support the independent bookselling community. Let me tell you, this is no small task!

It was the 7th annual Winter Institute and this year's chosen city was New Orleans. The ABA board members put in countless hours, organizing a myriad of presentations relating to all aspects of bookselling. Structured days left you with just enough time to rotate fro
m meeting to meeting. Some topics included improving profitability, tools for demographic studies, and procedures for supporting the rights of free speech. Publishers and authors were there as well, showing us all new and exciting titles that are coming this spring. It was a whirlwind of activity but, I have to say, one of the highlights of the conference was listening to author/bookstore owner, Ann Patchett, speak. Her enthusiasm and passion for books was so infectious and moving, she got a standing ovation and I actually shed a tear or two.

Over the course of the three days, there were many opportunities to meet other independent booksellers from all over the United States. The available slots for the Winter Institute quickly filled to capacity, with around 500 attendees. That's an impressive amount, representing booksellers from almost every state. The wealth of knowledge and experience was astounding, not to mention the dedication.

our free time, we all ventured out into one of the most charming cities I have ever seen. This was my first time visiting New Orleans and I was immediately smitten. Its history, architecture, people, food, music, art are all so amazing...I could gush all day. On my last night there, I sat on Royal Street enjoying the balmy evening, trying to sift through my experiences over the past few days. Trying to sum it up in one word, the best description is overwhelming, but in a wonderful, life-changing way. I return having learned more about the business I love, grateful for the new friends I have made, and for the opportunity of experiencing a city that now feels like home.

Diesel, A Bookstore, New Orleans anyone?

-Cheryl Ryan


Become a Giver for World Book Night 2012

Hello Reader,


There is an exciting book event happening this spring, across this whole wide country of ours (as well as the U.K., Ireland and Germany).  It's called World Book Night 2012!  The idea is that on one night, throughout America, 1 million books will be given away by hand by tens of thousands of people.  Authors and publishers have enthusiastically agreed to print over 30 thousand copies of 30 different titles, to be delivered to pick-up locations throughout the country -- mostly independent bookstores and libraries.  Individual readers will sign up to be Givers who agree to hand deliver 20 copies of a title of their choice to strangers in locations outside of their homes, their bookstores, and their libraries.  It may be a park, a prison, a school, a hospital, an intersection, an airplane, a bus. 


You can sign up as a Giver, choose DIESEL as your pick-up location, and choose from this year's title list.  We will have a Pick-up Party at our store on April 16th, 2012.  World Book Night 2012 is April 23rd, which is UNESCO's World Book Day and is the day of both Miguel de Cervantes' death and William Shakespeare's birth and death.   


Last year this was done in the U.K. and Ireland with astounding results.  We hope to make this year's event even more wildly successful by expanding it to the whole United States!  The deadline for signing up as a Giver is February 1st!  Please take the time to go to the World Book Night 2012 website and sign up to be a Giver.  You can see video footage from last year's event on the site as well, to get a sense of the joy created by this generous sharing of the love of reading between strangers. 


The World Book Night 2012 website is here.  The direct link to the sign up form is here.  Please put DIESEL as your registered pick-up location and let's make this event one of the biggest and best feel-good events of the year! 


Encourage your friends, your mayor, the media, your family, your favorite organizations -- all of them! -- to sign up and join to help to make this as big an event as we can!  It will take all of us to work together to get books into the hands of those who least expect them. 


Happy Reading! 

John and all Dieselfolk



Three Good Things: Endtimes, Vampires, and The American Heritage Dictionary



1. The 2012 Bucket List. As we all know, the world is probably ending in December. The Mayans were right about a lot of things: architecture, chocolate, the gold standard. It's not that I'm jumping on the apocalyptic bandwagon, I just want to hedge my bets. I want to eat a lot of good food and go standing paddle-boarding and see Kiefer Sutherland in person. I want to participate in one of those restaurant specials where you eat a piece of meat bigger than your head and then win the meal and a t-shirt and get your polaroid up on the wall next to pictures of big, red men with mustaches. This also means that the books released in 2012 will be the last new books ever printed. All your reading between now and December 21st is the most important reading you'll ever do! So, if you need help compiling your 2012 Bucket-List-Reading-List, refer to this handy guide from The Millions, The Most Anticipated: The Great 2012 Book Preview. (If you need help compiling your non-literary bucket list, come into the store and we can talk about it.)


2. Twilight redux. I've been waiting for this, ever since the Harry Potter spoofs have died off. This is completely silly, but the ones for Kate Chopin and Ayn Rand made me chuckle. If Famous Writers Had Written Twilight.


3. A Good Podcast is Hard to Find. Confession: when given the choice between fantastic nonfiction and fairly mediocre fiction, I usually choose the latter. I think it's too many years spent in the American school system, choking down over-simplified history books, or else let's blame the glitter-allure of fantasy instilled by Disney. Yeah. Disney. But I've stumbled across a podcast that's changing my attitude towards nonfiction. June Thomas caught my eye with the first installment of her new Slate-based podcast, The Afterword, which features nonfiction authors and their books, with a piece on the fate of the print dictionary. I know. It sounds riveting. But something about hearing the executive editor of the American Heritage Dictionary talk about the project in all its complexity had me wanting a copy of my own. The podcast comes out every other Saturday, look forward to episodes about Robert Neuwirth and his book Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy and Matthew Polly and his book Tapped Out: Rear Naked Chokes, the Octagon, and the Last Emperor: An Odyssey in Mixed Martial Arts.




The linkages between the books we read in a week a month a year, are mysterious, usually unconscious, and occasionally surprising.  You can play connect-the-dots from one title to another and to another, until a picture seems to arise.  A picture which looks like an intention a plan even a necessity.


I had meant to read The Ticking Is The Bomb ever since Alison had told me how much she liked it and how much she thought I'd like it too.  I did and I did, I read it and liked it immensely.  It's an immense book in a driftingly wideranging way.


In connecting dots you don't connect all the dots just the dots that seem to need or want to be connected.  I'll tell you now that the other dots are A Thousand Lives and The Old Man: John Brown at Harper's Ferry. Barely a line these three books an arc an arrow.


I read all three I thought for very different reasons.  Ticking as I said by recommendation curiosity and an interest in poets who write in other forms than poetry.  A Thousand Lives I read for a dinner with the author, though I am interested in Jonestown and in other extreme social events.


Reading Old Man arose from an ignorance of John Brown's history and a fascination with defiantly moral conviction.  Where does conscience arise come to proclaim itself and be heard?  The boundaries of principle violence and history.


I hadn't intended to read these three books let alone in close proximity.  They all deal with the farthest reaches of the social contract.  Torture, mass suicide, violent overthrow.


I don't usually read crime thrillers mysteries, whether fiction or nonfiction, or movies for that matter.  I'm not attracted to violence except as a flaring edge of human choice.  I am intrigued by powerful resistance to systems that repress human rights.


The three books congeal around the commitment to violence against a fellow human made with the cool eye of seeming reason.  Moral principle rationalizes the destruction and certifies its necessity.  Torture is justified in certain cases; revolutionary suicide is required to confront the oppressive status quo; violence is the only means left to catalyze an uprising to end the greatest evil of slavery.


After reading all three books I became like Flynn at the beginning of Ticking anxiously confounded by the human capacity for intentional violence.  The dot to dot penetration of that capacity in the everyday forms of our speech our media our government our lives.  The recognition that the righteousness in each of these books is just a few degrees away from where each of us speaks thinks acts.


It wasn't intentional.  I just read these books this summer of all the hundreds of books that surround me.  The dots joined up like silver in a mirror.


John Evans 

Diesel's BIG BOOK Sale


While supplies last, we're selling select BIG BOOKS at 30% off! Look for books with the blue dot at all three of our locations. 


Happy New Year from DIESEL! 




Trust This Particular Blog Entry: A Presale Giveaway

On Friday, January 20th at 7pm, the legendary William Gibson will be in our Oakland store to discuss and sign his latest book, Distrust That Particular Flavor.


Between Wednesday, December 28th and Tuesday, January 3rd (when the book goes on sale) we will be doing presales as part of a store giveaway: buy your book either in person or over the phone before January 3rd and you're entered into a drawing for a $50 Diesel gift certificate. Winners will be announced on the third!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: For nearly thirty years, William Gibson has been both chronicler and prophet of our transition into the digital era. His award-winning novels include Neuromancer, Mona Lisa Overdrive and Pattern Recognition. "Gibson writes about the present as if it were the future," says Lev Grossman, "as if he were a time traveler to whom everything seems fresh and new and strange... what Gibson has is a sense of the past; the past that our present is constantly, relentlessly becoming."

ABOUT THE BOOK: Throughout his carreer, Gibson has been sought out by widely varying publications for his insights into contemporary culture, writings that are collected for the first time in Distrust That Particular Flavor. In addition to articles from major publications, the book includes journalism from small publishers, online sources, and magazines no longer in existence. It is essential reading for any lover of William Gibson's novels, and offers readers a privileged view into the mind of a writer whose thinking has shaped not only a generation of writers, but our entire culture.



Dispatch from the Occupy Amazon Camp

We're so grateful for all the support we've recieved in our local and online communities. Here's the update:

  • The buttons and coasters are going like gangbusters--if you'd like to order some for your store contact Louise Marler at
  • Check out this BrowBeat post about the backlash against Farhad Manjoo's pro-Amazon Slate article. (The article prompted Salman Rushdie to tweet: “Book lovers are ‘cultists’? Maybe, but this man is a moron.”)
  • Get in on Colleen Linday's #bkstorelv on Twitter and let your favorite indie bookstores know how much you care
  • Bookselling This Week did a great round-up of bookseller, author, and media reacitions to Amazon's price-check app
  • If you don't have time to read the whole round-up, be sure to read Richard Russo's New York Times op-ed piece Amazon's Jungle Logic



Because Amazon can't keep you warm on a Friday night.

Our Occupy Amazon button meets the cover of Wired.

Today Amazon is promoting their Price Check app by offering up to five-dollars-off purchases when a customer goes into a brick-and-mortar store, scans the barcode of a product, and then buys the product through Amazon. This special offer doesn't apply to books, specifically, but the application is something that blatantly exploits the careful work of all small, local businesses. Huffington Post has a great article about the local bookstore response to this "Price Check" (in which we're mentioned). Also, I wanted to include the open letter to Jeff Bezos written by the CEO of the American Bookseller's Association, Oren Teicher. His words resonate with all of us booksellers. 


Take care of your community, friends. The best part of working at Diesel during the holidays has been watching old friends run into one another while shopping. You're holding each other's babies and recommending books and catching up on who's married and whose start-up is really taking off. We love the neighborhood and hope to be here for a very long time, not just doing business, but providing a space for people to, you know, be people.

- Sus


Courtesy of

Dear Jeff Bezos,

We’re not shocked, just disappointed.

Despite your company’s recent pledge to be a better corporate citizen and to obey the law and collect sales tax, you created a price-check app that allows shoppers to browse Main Street stores that do collect sales tax, scan a product, ask for expertise, and walk out empty-handed in order to buy on Amazon. We suppose we should be flattered that an online sales behemoth needs a Main Street retail showroom.

Forgive us if we’re not.

We could call your $5 bounty to app-users a cheesy marketing move and leave it at that. In fact, it is the latest in a series of steps to expand your market at the expense of cities and towns nationwide, stripping them of their unique character and the financial wherewithal to pay for essential needs like schools, fire and police departments, and libraries.

But maybe we’ve misunderstood.

Even though you’ve spent millions on lobbyists, fired affiliates in seven states, and threatened to shut warehouses to avoid collecting sales tax, maybe you really mean it now when you say you support a level playing field.

It’s up to you to show us.

In the meantime, indie retailers remain the heart of countless communities — offering discovery, energy, support, and unique experiences. See you on Main Street.


Oren Teicher, CEO

American Booksellers Association