Chatter's blog



Thanksgiving is around the corner which means the holiday season is in full swing.  It's the season of giving, which started early in Northern California this year.  The Fire Relief Children's Book Drive initiated by Gibson Thomas of Edible Marin & Wine Country Magazine and embraced by DIESEL ended up with more than 10,000 books for children being donated and distributed in the Fire areas!  Thanks to Gibson and to the hundreds of individuals, families, organizations and publishers that donated books at this critical time.  The recovery from the Fire will take years but the communities strengthened and created by coming together have already begun.

Books make some of the most meaningful gifts -- we all know this.  We have some of the most beautiful, interesting and gift-worthy books in the English-speaking world in stock, on display, and on the mental fingertips of our professional crew of independent booksellers.  We wrap; we recommend; we are excellent at matching book to person, either you or someone dear to you.

So, come on into the stores and enjoy the books this season and make it possible for others to enjoy them too!

Have a happy Thanksgiving with friends, family and even a stranger or two!

And Happy Reading!

John & all DIESELfolk

Fire Relief: Children's Book Drive at DIESEL in Larkspur


The fires raging throughout Northern California have left thousands homeless.  Many are staying in shelters awaiting news of their homes.  Children are afraid, and bored, in the shelters, away from their homes, their pets, and their books.  We are mounting a Children's Book Drive at our store at the Marin Country Mart, as part of Fire Relief efforts spreading throughout our communitites. 

Please help to provide books to the thousands of children who have lost their community and home libraries.  You can drop off books at our Larkspur store at the Marin Country Mart day and night.  Any books in good condition are welcome at this time.  Those of you with children may find that your children want to help those in need, and giving books that they've read and enjoyed would be a wonderful way for them to help.

We will deliver them to those in need.  Thanks, in advance, for your generosity, your compassion, and your books.  We will all have to rise to this occasion, and help those keenly facing this devastation.

--- John & All DIESELfolk

DIESEL Oakland Says Goodbye


Dear Reader,

This is our last note to you from #1 DIESEL, in Oakland.  At midnight tonight DIESEL in Oakland becomes East Bay Booksellers, with Brad at the helm.  

It has been indescribably wonderful being your local booksellers for the last 28 years.  The community you’ve welcomed us into and that we’ve created and maintained together has been so important to us, and still is!  (We will continue to live in the neighborhood, so we will still see you around – but no longer behind the counter, or shelving books.)

Thanks so much for all of our conversations; for the events that we’ve shared; for the love of books and recommendations we’ve exchanged; and for keeping reading, and writing, and all of our imaginations alive in times that have challenged our humanity and our conviviality.

As we have often written: ‘Thank you for supporting the fragile ecology of free speech which independent bookstores help to sustain.’  Thank you, again, for this too.  

As many of you know, DIESEL can be found in Larkspur, and in Southern California, in Brentwood.  We look forward to seeing you there.  But for those of you who stay close to home and live in or near Rockridge – enjoy the new East Bay Booksellers, with the same wonderful booksellers who have been working for DIESEL the past few years.  They will carry on that most-wonderful of East Bay literary traditions: the fine art of independent bookselling.

We will be having a joint party on Saturday September 23rd!  Please come by to share stories and toast the past, present and future.  Hope to see you there.

With Gratitude,
Alison & John



                              (John, Alison & Brad signing!)

Press Release


For immediate release:
DIESEL, A Bookstore in Oakland Officially Becomes East Bay Booksellers on September 1, 2017

Oakland, CA — How often do you get to talk about a bookstore closing, and it actually is a good story? When we announced in November that the founders of DIESEL, A Bookstore wanted to sell their Oakland location to me, one of their longtime managers, I had no idea what the response would be. When I called a customer meeting at the store to explain what we had in mind and why we wanted to do it, my greatest fear was awkward silence. 

Our customers, however, were neither awkward nor silent. In two months, I raised half of what I needed to buy the inventory. A couple months after that, I had enough to do so. By mid-summer, I had sufficient capital to run a business. 

I've had some time now to reflect on why we met with such fundraising success. From the stories people told me, especially as we talked about their love of DIESEL and independent bookstores, it clearly wasn't because something had to change. As I repeated early and often, the changes we were pursuing were not necessary -- there was no financial doomsday behind it all. I think our customers recognized the positivity at the root of our plans. What better time is there to make a change than when it isn't being forced upon you? 

On Friday, September 1, 2017, the store will open its doors with relatively minimal fanfare as East Bay Booksellers. Customers will be forgiven if they don't immediately notice the new logo on the window. Or perhaps don't at the moment remark on the new bookmarks we slide into their books. We want the store to feel familiar, with touches of difference they can't quite put a finger on -- and not just when they come in for the first time after the change, but every time thereafter. Change doesn't have to happen, but thankfully it does anyway!

Of course, as the word spreads and the dust settles, we will schedule a party so everyone can celebrate their memories of DIESEL. In the meantime, moved by the devastating need of in Texas and beyond, East Bay Booksellers is honoring its history as a progressive cultural hub by donating 20% of its opening weekend sales to Hurricane Harvey relief.

Some things will never change. 

Brad Johnson
5433 College Avenue
Oakland, CA 94618
Ph: (510) 653-9965

September 1 Approaches Quickly!


It's taken a long time -- just shy of a year -- but the transition of our Oakland store into East Bay Booksellers is very nearly complete. Current store manager, Brad Johnson, has raised the money he needs to move ahead. All that's left now are the legal and practical niceties. September 1 is marked on our calendars. Maybe now it is on yours, too.

Brad answered some questions for LitHub about buying the store, and we expect you have some as well. So here's a stab at answering some of them:

What will change (besides the name)? -- Did you notice the yellow in that logo?! You'll definitely be seeing more of that on bookmarks, tote bags, and the like.

You know what we mean. Are you still going to have the same diverse array of books? -- Oh, definitely! In addition to managing the store for a few years now, Brad's been buying the books we put on the shelves. You're in very good hands.

What about the staff? -- As above, you're in very good hands. DIESEL was built in Oakland by its booksellers being some of the best of the land. Brad believes that so much he put "Booksellers" in the name of the new store. There are no staffing changes in the works. 

Are you still going to host events and book groups? You better believe it. Check out the Oakland events calendar, and you'll see things booked in September. Those will become East Bay Booksellers events after September 1. That means: Jesmyn Ward! Santiago Gamboa! Daniel Handler! And you can expect so very much even after that. 

Word of the Worlds April 2017


The Women Writers of Science Fiction

The 2017 Hugo Awards finalists were just announced earlier this month. The nominees are up for one of scifi’s more prestigious awards, despite an unfortunate taint in recent years by misogynists and bigots seeking to manipulate the ballots. This year at least, the changes to the nomination procedure have had a dampening effect on those efforts. I’m not going to get into the (supposed) reasoning behind those group's misguided attempts, or how and why everything they stand for is wrong. Instead, I will point out the recurrence of one of the great trends that drives them crazy: the increasing recognition of women scifi/fantasy authors. This year, four of the six Hugo finalists for Best Novel are women: Charlie Jane Anders, Becky Chambers, N.K. Jemisin, and Ada Palmer. You’ll see the same kind of representation as you move down the ballots: four of six for Best Novella, five of six for Best Novelette. And the same thing is happening over in the Nebula Awards, whose finalists were announced in late February.     

It’s not just nominations either--women are winning the awards. Last year, N.K. Jemisin and Naomi Novik won Best Novel at the Hugo Awards and Nebula Awards respectively. Nnedi Okorafor took home Best Novella at both. And the Hugo for Best Short Story went to Naomi Kritzer while Alyssa Wong took the Nebula.

Word of the Worlds March 2017


March 2017

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Year for 2016 was "surreal." For 2017, my money is on "dystopia." Shortly after the inauguration, 1984, that classic high-school-assigned-reading story of dystopia, rocketed to the top of bestseller lists nationwide. And for good reason. It's a great book with a lot of unsettlingly prescient aspects: newspeak, Big Brother, doublethink, and more. President Trump’s prolific lies, his refusal to concede even when confronted by evidence, and the spin attempt to explain those lies away as “alternative facts” fit neatly into Orwell’s dire, dour tale. (On a tangent, Ursula K. LeGuin most excellently and definitively clarified the difference between “alternative facts” and the fabrications of science fiction in a letter to The Oregonian. This was in response to a boneheaded reader’s attempt to lump Spicer, Bannon, and Trump in with legendary scifi writers like Arthur C. Clarke and LeGuin herself.)

As many have pointed out, 1984 really only gets some of it right, and there are many other books whose vision of doom and gloom have proven just as--if not more--accurate. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World presents a more American version of the totalitarian state where dominion is achieved and maintained through entertainment, distraction, and consumerism. And recently Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale came roaring back into relevancy not because of a TV show in the works but because of, among other things, an Oklahoma lawmaker’s comments to the effect that women were “hosts” for their babies. 

Word of the Worlds February 2017


February 2017

Welcome to DIESEL's brand new experiment: Word of the Worlds: A Science Fiction Newsletter. Long have we touted the merits of this genre rich in imagination and wonder, unique in its ability to obliquely hold up a damning mirror to society. Under a pervading sense of moving into our own dark, dystopic times, we thought it would be a good idea to do what booksellers do and talk about the books we love. We promise not to be too political, but neither will we retreat into pure escapism.

There are many opinions about what should be categorized as science fiction, and you'll find our definition to be fairly broad. We'll sometimes include not just fantasy, but horror, the supernatural, and the magical in here. Some of the titles we choose to talk about may be only peripherally related to conventional science fiction by the thinnest of threads. We reserve the right to be excited about some off-the-wall stuff!

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Book Reviews
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