thomas gladysz

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  Thomas Gladysz
 
At one of the handful of events I put on with
bestselling author Neil Gaiman (center)
  For a number of years, I worked as a bookseller. It was my "day job." I enjoyed it not only because I love books, but also because I loved working with authors. During my time as a bookseller, I was employed at The Booksmith, a leading independent bookstore located in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. (After The Booksmith, I worked for a short time at Book Passage in Marin.) These days, I still work in publishing. I am the Director of Marketing and Sales at the Arion Press, a world renown fine press publisher located in San Francisco, California.

As a bookseller, I was a jack of all trades, though I primarily managed author events. [See below.] I also worked at various times as a buyer, assistant manager, publicist, and liaison to community groups and the publishing industry. For nine years, I served on the Board of Directors of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, a regional trade association. During my tenure, the NCIBA developed the Book Sense branding campaign, which was later adopted for national use by the American Booksellers Association. I coined the widely adopted phrase "Independent bookstores for independent minds." I also served on the Bookseller Advisory Board of the Paris Review, and have over the years advised and consulted with publishers, authors, booksellers and allied groups on business, marketing, and promotional strategies.

On a number of occasions, I was also a speaker and panelist at both regional and national conventions. My articles profiling the movers and shakers in the industry, as well as on best practices and related topics, have been published in various trade journals and industry newsletters; some of my articles had also been adapted for coursework by the American Booksellers Association, and as promotional material by the National Poetry Foundation. 

 

Annie Leibovitz took this snapshot
(of my wife & I) after signing
200 books in 20 minutes

 

I created The Booksmith's pioneering website, which launched in 1995, just a few months after Amazon.com debuted. As webmaster, I initiated news-making promotional projects in partnership with publishers & authors including gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, author and illustrator William Joyce, cartoonist / writer Lynda Barry, and the acclaimed short story writer George Saunders, among others. The Booksmith website was featured in TIME magazine.

As events coordinator, I developed and managed all aspects of a series recognized by my peers as one of the very best on the West Coast, if not all the western United States. I acted as a producer (which meant selecting, promoting, and hosting) nearly 1000 events over the course of a decade; the events program received wide-ranging coverage, and was twice named "Best in the City" by the San Francisco Weekly. Over the years, I put on many memorable and even historic events with all manner of novelists, artists, journalists and bestselling writers, including a number of Pulitzer Prize, Booker prize, and National Book Award winners. There were also Academy Award winners, celebrities from all fields, Presidentail candidates, distinguished historians, biographers, and newsmakers. I am especially proud of having hosted the Nobel Prize winning Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz.

The first event I put on at the Booksmith was with the legendary science fiction writer Robert Silverberg. The last was with the world-renowned film critic David Thomson. In between came an exclusive event with rock music legend Neil Young (which was covered in the New York Times), the first Bay Area bookstore appearances by Chuck Palahniuk, Sarah Waters, and China Mieville, blockbuster events with Neil Gaiman, David Sedaris, Dave Eggers, and Khaled Houssini, the first bookstore event anywhere with the 99-year old screenwriter Frederica Sagor Mass (she penned stories for "IT" girl Clara Bow), and the last ever reading by Beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

The Booksmith became a must-visit store, and writers such as Elmore Leonard, Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Derek Walcott and John Ashbery all came by to autograph books; I gave the Nobel Prize winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney a lift from his hotel, and Joan Didion kissed me goodbye after her signing. The store also had a special relationship with playwright Arthur Miller, who autographed more than 1000 books, including an anniversary edition of Death of a Salesman. Local authors thought of The Booksmith as their home store. Those I worked with on multiple occasions include Daniel Handler and his alter-ego Lemony Snicket, novelist William T. Vollmann, critic Greil Marcus, and members and associates of the Grateful Dead. Someday, I'll put together a slidehsow of snapshots and video clips from my many events. In the meantime, here is a checklist of some of the more memorable events I produced. Authors marked with an asterisk* represent those with whom I did two or more events.

AMERICAN NOVELISTS

David Foster Wallace
Jonathan Lethem*
Denis Johnson
Jim Harrison
Stuart Dybek
Rick Moody
Paul Auster
James Ellroy*
Sherman Alexie*
George Saunders*

BRITISH NOVELISTS

Michael Ondaatje
Kazuo Ishiguro
Martin Amis*
Irvine Welsh*
Nick Hornby*
David Mitchell*
Jeanette Winterson
John Lanchester
Monica Ali
DBC Pierre

PULITZER PRIZE

Jeffrey Eugenidies*
Michael Chabon*
Adam Johnson*
Richard Ford
Junot Diaz
Jane Smiley
Annie Proulx
Oscar Hijuelos
Robert Olen Butler*
Robert Hass

POETS

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Michael McClure*
Anne Waldman*
Diane DiPrima*
Donald Hall
Robert Bly
Ed Hirsch
Bei Dao
Thom Gunn*
August Kleinzahler*

ARTISTS

Joel Peter Witkin
Annie Leibovitz
Ruth Bernhard
Cole Weston
William Claxton
Ralph Steadman
Maira Kalman
Don Bachardy
Brian Froud*
Mick Rock*

MUSICIANS

Patti Smith*
David Byrne*
Joe Jackson
Eric Burdon
Grace Slick
Judy Collins*
Ray Manzarek (Doors)*
Gene Simmons (KISS)
Nick Mason (Pink Floyd)
Van Dyke Parks

CHILDREN'S / YA

Hilary Knight
Philip Pullman
Remy Charlip*
Jasper Fforde*
Lois Lowry
Garth Nix
Peter Sis*
Eoin Colfer
Rosemary Wells
Francesca Lia Block

SCI-FI / FANTASY

George R.R. Martin
Terry Pratchett*
Harlan Ellison*
Ursula LeGuin
William Gibson*
Neal Stephenson*
Robert Jordan
Anne Rice
Clive Barker*
Kim Stanley Robinson*

COMIX

Art Spiegelman*
Lynda Barry*
Bizarro*
Chris Ware
Charles Burns
Daniel Clowes*
Adrine Tomine*
Alison Bechdel
Marjane Satrapi
Harvey Pekar*

FILM / TV

Ray Harryhausen
Michael Palin
Gloria Stuart
Peter Coyote
Wes Craven
Mike Farrell
George Takei
Chuck Barris*
Whit Stillman
Alan Lee

CELEBRITIES

John Hodgeman
Margaret Cho
Dan Savage*
Scott Simon
Anthony Rapp
Harry Shearer
Tommy Chong
Eric Bogosian*
Forrest Ackerman
Mariel Hemingway

OTHERS / WRITERS

Sen. George McGovern
Daniel Ellsberg
Sen. Gary Hart
John Dean
Huston Smith
Howard Zinn
Camille Paglia
Donald Richie
Robert Thurman*
Simon Winchester

Here is a short list of some of the media and mentions I received during my time as a bookseller. I also appeared on Japanese radio, on MSNBC, and what was once known as web-TV.

 
 
I designed this crude, punkish poster for the late great Kathy Acker. She loved it, and we went out drinking afterwords.

Robbins, Cynthia. "Little booksellers big with readers." San Francisco Examiner, 1996.

Garchik, Leah. "Personals -- Assessing the Haight." San Francisco Chronicle, 1997.

Mantell, Suzanne. "In the Shadow of the Giants." UTNE Reader, 1997.

Orrick, Phyllis. "Unspun." SF Weekly, 1997.

anonymous. "Internet Filter Program Blocks The Booksmith." Bookselling This Week, 1997.

Fost, Dan. "High-Tech Storytelling." San Francisco Chronicle, 1998.

High, John. "Booksmith Issues Author Trading Cards." Publishers Weekly, 2000.

High, John. "Web Sales Rising for Independents." Publishers Weekly, 2000.

Rosen, Judith. "Just a Click Away." Publishers Weekly, 2000.

anonymous. "The Summer Paperback Book Sense 76." Bookselling This Week, 2003.

anonymous. "More Potter Pictures." Bookselling This Week, 2005.

Tranter, John. "Booksmith." Jacket, 2006. (Australia)

Toole, Michael T. "Interview with Thomas Gladysz." Turner Classic Movies, 2007.

anonymous. "Best Author Appearances - 2008." SF Weekly, 2008.

Robbins, Trina. "The Unsinkable Fear of Blogging." RedRoom, 2009.

Garchik, Leah. "Personals." San Francisco Chronicle, 2009.

Champion, Edward. "Thomas Gladysz Laid Off from Booksmith." Reluctant Habits, 2009.

anonymous. "Cool Idea of the Day." Shelf Awareness, 2011.

A moment to remember: author Hunter S. Thompson (right)
greets actor Johnny Depp (left).
Introducing an author at one of my
nearly 1000 events.
Artist James Mazzeo and musician Neil Young sign copies
of Greendale - their only event anywhere!
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