Letter: While Preparing to Close the Doors


Posted by on Wed, March 18, 2009

From Mark Sipowicz, the owner of Moon News. This letter went to the bookstore’s customers today announcing Mark’s plans to close the store on April 30.  Beginning tomorrow, all the store’s merchandise is 10% off. Mark says if you mention this letter, you will get a special 20% discount on Thursday and Friday only.

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

  —From Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem In Memoriam, 1850

Dear Friends, Neighbors and Readers,

Those famous lines of Tennyson’s have come up for me over and over these last few weeks. I hope you all can share the sentiment.

When opening the store 12 years ago it never occurred to me that I might one day have to also close it. That is not to say that I didn’t notice the rising threat’s to this line of work each consecutive year, but my general sense was always that as long as we kept selling more good books and we kept the unique appeal of Moon News alive and thriving we could count on a long and happy life for the business. And I suppose we did—12 years is certainly not a short life for a store nor has the happiness we have all experienced, the pleasure and meaning we have all derived been insignificant. But an ending is now clearly in sight and it is time to move towards it.

I’d like to thank you all for a truly wonderful adventure: filled with seductive stories, poetry, friendship and a great sense of place. Those of us that have worked behind the counter here at Moon News have not only enjoyed the pleasures of the book trade but also clearly and deeply reveled in the spirit of the conversation that arises across the counter with you during this exchange. I think I can speak for nearly all those talented and good-hearted people that have worked here when I say that there hasn’t been a single day when some pleasure of the trade hasn’t tapped us on the shoulder, brought a smile to our face, or warmed our hearts in some way. And more often than not that glow has arisen from our contact with you, the reader and customer.

As some of you know, I have spent the last 12 months working both with a broker and without to sell the bookstore and have worked with at least a dozen different buyers. Potential candidates have included longstanding good customers, staff, fellow bookstore owners from around the Bay Area, and a few candidates from out of the area. A lot of good will and flexibility has been exchanged on both sides in all cases and yet through out, a juncture has occurred in the road where the buyer announced that the challenge is too great—disappointing yes, but of course true for so many reasons also. And although I made a clear announcement to myself and others that I was ready for a change for personal reasons over a year ago, even at that time, it was hard to separate the economics from the personal. So when the economy soured last year and we saw our first year of dramatically lower sales compared to the previous, the financial challenge clearly rose to and above the level of my personal commitment to move on.

Beginning tomorrow we will sell all of our merchandise at 10% off. We would like those of you that are reading this letter to mention that you have read this note and we will gladly give you a special 20% discount Thursday and Friday only. If you want to ask yourself what you can do for us—you can come in and buy our books and magazines at a discount. We are happy to continue placing special orders for another week or so, but after that much of the selection you can normally count on at Moon News will be reduced to a first come first serve basis. We have our sights on an April 30th closure.

Please join us in attending the remaining upcoming events listed below and watch for more news on this dial as it develops. We hope to send a little information about our staff in the next e-mail and construct a plan for a big party that we will announce shortly also.

Book people in all their many forms and fashions are such good people. I hope we can all find ways to continue supporting and nourishing the culture that grows up around it, feeding and being fed by its deep roots.

Deep bows of gratitude to you all for supporting us with such enthusiasm all these years.


Mark Sipowicz

I hate this.

Running an independent bookstore was a bad business idea before Amazon—even before Barnes & Noble and Borders. Now, it’s just nuts.

But it’s not just any bookstore. Moon News was one of the best bookstores of its size in the Bay Area, or just about anywhere else for that matter. I don’t know how they did it. I guess I should be grateful we had them as long as we did.

Thank you, Mark, for being crazy enough to try this in Half Moon Bay.

We’ll miss Moon News.  They were a true community bookstore.  I especially enjoyed the nights they stayed open late during Cunha Dances, so I had a place to hang out while waiting for the kids.  The staff was knowledgeable and always had great recommendations for new reads.  If they didn’t have it, they ordered it.  Next to Keplers in Palo Alto, Moon News was my favorite, and to have it here locally was a real privilege.


Thank you so much for being there for us as we started Ink Spell Books.  When you arrived with flowers and a “welcome to the neighborhood” it was the warmest welcome we had ever felt.  It meant the world to us.

The number of times we have called Moon News looking for a title, we were always met with a sincere camaraderie that will truly be missed.



I’d also like to say that Ink Spell is another amazing community resource that we all need to get out and support, if we don’t want to see it go the way of Moon News.  Cindi and her crew have been there anytime we’ve needed help with field trips, or books for our school classes. They welcome our Cunha Kids after school, not just as a place to buy books, but to hang out with friend in a safe welcoming environment. Thanks to Cindi and her amazing staff, and you have my promise to stop in more often! We’d like to keep you around for the long haul.