Chatter's blog

DIESEL's Young Adult Newsletter for February 2018!


Dear Reader,

Deep in the midst of winter, which in California feels more metaphorical than actual, we are offering up some romance (it is the month of Valentine's Day after all) and some uprising.  The whole world seems interested in freedom, and the barriers to freedom -- whether that's threats of tyranny, loss of civil rights, structural inequalities, or historical injustices.  

The predatory state capitalism of the kingdom of Sempera; the challenges to freely expressed love in Mormon Utah; and the cultural hate-mongering in the Bonelands -- all of these have direct parallels throughout the world just now.  

The romantic storylines running through these fictional worlds bring the characters alive and highlight the human costs of these distortions of power.  Fantasy and romance in YA novels are excellent ways to clarify and experience these real-world dangers and begin to imagine ways to counteract them.  Here are just three examples from our YA section, reviewed by our passionate and able Bookoholic reviewers!

Happy Reading!
John & all DIESELfolk

DIESEL, A Bookstore presents the Indie Next List for February 2018


View this month's complete Indie Next List.


The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches From the Border by Francisco CantúOn the cover of this month's Indie Next list is The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches From the Border, by Francisco Cantú.

View from a bookseller:
“Cantú personalizes the U.S.-Mexican border and all of its complexity in a way I’ve never seen. His writing is beautiful, with haunting and detailed descriptions of the desert, the immigrants, the cartels, and his own fears about violence and identity confusion. The criminalization of searching for a better life and the dehumanization of the process is looked at from several angles, and his journalistic approach does not make judgments, but clearly tells the facts. A great new writer to follow.”
Pat Marsello, Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM



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