Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Japanese Firm Buys Cody's Books

Fred Ross, the owner of the two remaining Cody’s Bookstores, has sold his two-store chain to a Japanese buyer, Hiroshi Kagawa, the owner of Yohan, Inc.

"We are very excited about our partnership with Yohan as we begin our next half century," Ross said in a press release. "Yohan shares our commitment to independent bookselling. Working together we can extend our reach both locally and globally. Yohan's financial resources and international relationships will strengthen our existing operations, and will allow us to properly restock our shelves and offer the broad in-depth selection that customers expect from Cody's."

Cody's will essentially remain the same: a two-store operation that showcases numerous authors. Ross will remain as president and his wife Leslie Berkler will be vice-president in charge of store operations.

Yohan, Inc is the largest distributor of English-language books in Japan. It was founded in 1953 and currently operates 18 bookstores and a few publishers. Yohan bought Berkeley-based Stone Bridge Press last year. Kagawa is either 49 or 50 and "loves books," the press release quotes Peter Goodman, his long time friend as saying. ‘Yohan and Cody’s share a sensibility that venerates the written word.’”

The sale does not surprise to me. A few weeks ago I wrote about Cody’s financial problems. I had no details or statistics: I just noticed that the shelves in its Fourth Street Store in Berkeley didn’t have very many books on them. This was just weeks after Ross closed his wonderful Telegraph Avenue Store.

Ed Champion berates Ross for taking the easy way out. He suggests that Ross made a major miscalculation when he took over the old Planet Hollywood store on Stockton Street in San Francisco.

“But I know how you’ll justify all this, Mr. Ross. You didn’t sell out. You bought in. It was the “market,” after all, that killed off Cody’s. Not the fact that you took over Planet Hollywood’s old space on Stockton Street, which probably had a rent that was a shitload more expensive than the original Telegraph Avenue store that you so gracelessly killed. Fred Cody is spinning in his grave right around now. He never would have let this happen.”

I am sorry that the buyer is from another country. But ownership change can be good. Look, the Codys sold to Ross many years ago and he gave the community one of the best bookstores in the region. Maybe the new owner, Hiroshi Kagawa, will invest more money and refill all those shelves.

1 comment:

cj133 said...

That's nice! Huge money is really expected. And it's also great to have japanese investors invest in such popular books.