Thomas Gladysz Laid Off from Booksmith

gladyszI have learned that Thomas Gladysz, the events coordinator for the now less wonderful San Francisco bookstore Booksmith, has been let go by new owners Christin Evans and Praveen Madan. No explanation given, but presumably it’s “the economy.” Thomas had been at the Booksmith for 21 years, and the man had events coordination down to a science. Not only was he one of the vital guys who held the Haight’s literary community together, but he was always very kind and courteous — even to loudmouth regulars like me. One of his many achievements involved organizing and hosting Allen Ginsberg’s last reading — this, when the man was dying. Without Thomas, the bookstore simply won’t be the same. I recognize the need for change in this ever-shifting economy, but getting rid of Thomas is hardly conducive to making a store “an integral part of the neighborhood,” as the smug Chuck Nevius boasted only a few weeks ago. Evans and Madan owe the San Francisco literary community a transparent explanation for this disgraceful move. Canning veterans like Thomas is hardly “building the independent bookstore for the 21st century,” as the Booksmith’s website now boasts. It’s more like lopping off one of the legs that made the bookstore a serious player in the first place. (Rather criminally, there is no mention of this terrible news at SFist or the ostensibly Bay Area-based litblog, Conversational Reading. What a way to stand up for the little guy. For goodness sake, Smokler, can you look into this story?)


  1. Thank you for your sympathetic words regarding my job loss. Suffice to say, I was not fired, let go, or “asked to step down” – I was laid off. As I understand it, the new owners of the store plan to take the Booksmith in a different direction. Those plans do not include me.

    I am proud of my accomplishments as a bookseller and event coordinator. Over the last 10-plus years, I set up / promoted / and hosted nearly 1000 author readings. Many of those events were successful, many memorable, and some historic. I always tried to offer a platform to local writers, debut novelists, and the like. If memory serves, I hosted the first San Francisco appearances by Chuck Palahniuk, China Mieville, Sarah Waters and many others.

    As I have been telling people lately, after having promoted the work of so many other authors, I plan to take some time and work on my own book projects. Thus, chances are I won’t see you at the next William Vollmann event!

  2. Thanks for your concern. This was a difficult decision made after much deliberation. But when you take the reins of a cultural institution like the Booksmith, in a tough market environment, you don’t have the luxury of making decisions based on sentimentality. I agree with you that we have an obligation to the San Francisco literary community – it’s an obligation first and foremost to survive and thrive as an independent bookstore so we can continue to serve readers and writers, failing which we would follow the same destiny that befell CWLP, Cody’s, and more recently Stacey’s. If you have any constructive suggestions or further questions, we are always open to hearing from our community members. You can reach me at the store.

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