Monday, November 28, 2005

Debi Echlin

Every since I started this blog, I have been writing about Debi Echlin and her fabulous bookstore, A Great Good Place For Books in the Montclair section of Oakland.

Debi created a community in her tiny space, a place where readers and writers came together to celebrate a love of books. When she first opened the store, she rented out books from various bookseller lists. That was enough to get me hooked. I could read and read the latest books to my heart’s content, all for a flat yearly fee.

Debi was a true book enthusiast. She fell in love with Brad Newsham’s book, Take Me With You: A Round-The-World Journey to Take A Stranger Home. She sold 700 hardback copies of that book from her 1,000 square-foot store. Debi was so excited about the book that customers couldn’t resist buying it. There were other books that Debi loved, and her customers soon learned about them

This year she decided to transform the annual Books By The Bay festival into a non-profit venture to raise money for literacy programs around the state. Once again Debi recruited friends and customers to support her vision, and the festival donated thousands of dollars to help kids learn to read.

I have been working on my book for a number of years, and I frequently fantasized about giving a reading at A Great Good Place for Books. I knew Debi would support me in every way possible.

You can see where this is going. Debi Echlin is dead. She passed away in her sleep on Thanksgiving. She was 52.

I am in shock. She was such a vibrant force. She had a huge smile and a determination to make her store the best it could be. And she succeeded. A Great Good Place for Books is not only a beautiful, comfortable place to hang out, it is a community. It is more than a store, it is a place where people felt connected to something bigger than themselves.

I will miss you, Debi.


Susan said...

Frances, thank you for that wonderful tribute. I am in shock, too. Debi was such an amazing and wonderful gift to writers and readers and our entire community. She will be so deeply missed.

FJK said...

I too am an emerging writer and felt so supported by Debi and looked forward to seeing any eventual book I wrote on her shelves.

She knew my youngest son had reading issues and went out of her way to celebrate his accomplishments with him.

I will still haunt the store as I always have, and I know I will feel Debi's spirit there, but somehow it just doesn't seem enough right now.

Lisa M said...

I'm sorry to hear that, I didn't know her but you gave her a nice tribute. Renting out books is a great idea.