home | blog | site map | reviews | bookstore travelers | book awards | write to us     24books.org
      about us
smiling zichiltons

                        photo by my best friend - Keith Prior                          10/16/93



our former bookstores


random writings

random writings, words from my pen - John


reflections on Groundhog Day


fist some information on indie bookselling


small BLUEwhat's John reading NOW?


   We both have long bookselling histories, working in independent bookstores, regional and national chains, before we struck out on our own, to live our fantasy, owning our own bookstore. In 1987, we quit our jobs managing a Waldenbooks in Davis and opened our first store, Mansion Book Merchants, at 132 E Street, in Davis. When we moved to our second (much larger) location on G Street, we changed the store's name to The Next Chapter, and that name lasted through two large locations with full coffeehouses in Woodland, and we then made the big move up the hill to Placerville, and became Raven's Tale. The great recession of 2008 took its toll on our already weakened finances and our hands were forced into closing our last bookstore in the fall of 2009. That's our story and we're sticking with it. You can click on the store locations listed below to learn more details of our glorious history. Being able to keep our bookstores open for 22 years was no easy accomplishment in the world of bookselling and we never could have kept going without a lot of help from some great employees, relatives, friends, and customers.


Thanks for your interest. - John & Vicky  

a little about our talents and what we've done

we NEED underwear  learn about the Davis fight against Borders

FLASH  some of my favorite photos from the past few years

contact Vicky & John

What are independent bookstore owners like?

   Does their every conversation center on literature? Are they always lefties, never far from a New York Times? Do they write lofty, convoluted novels, or are they just loony? Is everything with them about how great bookselling was in years past? Do they KNOW that Amazon is a warped form of devil worship? 
   Sorry, we're just two semi-normal people who did something (this independent bookstore thing) we love, for years and years. And, just to be clear about this, we would love to do it all over again. Come on Lotto.

22 Years of Independent Bookselling

   We met in a bookstore. We got married in front of the register in our own bookstore. Oh, we are indeed book people and book nerds. Financially, owning our own independent bookstore was pretty much always tough sledding, but these were the best job we both ever had.

     Take trip back in history to
that live on in people's minds and on bookshelves near and far.

trip back in time
Mansion Book Merchants 132 E St., Davis - March of 1987 to June 1992 (the start)
The Next Chapter 225 G St., Davis - June 1992 to February 1998
The Next Chapter 1059 Court St., Woodland - February 1998 to October 2003
The Next Chapter622 Mani St., Woodland - November 2003 to June 2008
Raven's Tale352 Main St., Placerville - June 2008 to August 2009 

john hamilton & vicky panzichWe're still around and let my T-shirt be a your guide...YES, we're still reading, every good book we can lay our hands on.

This photo is not proof that we've been put out to pasture, just that we like walking the trails at Sea Ranch.

True book people are always around books in one way or another all their lives. Piles of books have always surrounded our bed.
Because you never know when you will need a new read.

As we've often said — "Thanks for Reading"
and we hope to see you in a bookstore again some day.

                 - Vicky & John

our published bio


   Vicky Panzich and John Hamilton live a bookish life. Both were working in bookstores when they met ... in a bookstore. In 1987, after moving to Davis to open a Waldenbooks, they decided, on a whim, to open their own store. It was in a site off the beaten track and they called it Mansion Book Merchants. After five years they moved to a larger, more trafficked area and changed the name of the store to The Next Chapter. (What could be apter?)   

   John builds all of the fixtures and does the accounting while Vicky buys the books and takes care of the sales floor. The stock consists of fine, hand-picked books, many from small presses, chosen for their intrinsic value and because they are well written. Despite hard-going economics, the couple considers bookselling to be the most rewarding job they've ever had. When their plans for a wedding on a friend's farm fell through (wrong county), they closed up the shop and held the wedding in the store, with customers outside peering in through the windows, wondering why they were closed.   

   "Spending each day with books is a supreme pleasure. When we're not at work, we're reading or visiting other bookstores. Our life is books," says Panzich.  

                - From the 1996 edition of First & Foremost: A Guide to Northern California's Independent Bookstores




vicky panzichjohn hamiltonvicky panzichjohn hamilton

vicky panzichjohn hamilton



small sidenote


more than a big rodent
Groundhog Day is a day of shadows and hopes. It's a special kind of a day. When I was growing up in Vermont, groundhogs/woodchucks were a common sight in the fields and some people thought of themselves as woodchucks - that might tell you a little about the Vermont state of mind. February 2 was still very much winter in Vermont, but the talk about spring or six more weeks of winter ... gave some hope. Could it be that a particular warm spell was the beginning of spring or just a sunny day before more snow and ice came our way? Could our famed mud season be just around the corner? Just how many times can it seem like spring has come...only to vanish in more snow and cold?   

I still remember getting Groundhog Day off from classes. The official UVM (University of Vermont) reason for closing that day was that it was all about energy-savings during the 1970's energy crisis, but I had high hopes that it was just the beginning of a new groundhog culture. Vicky tells me that I've been deluded about MANY things in life...doesn't seem likely to me.


History & Facts
   Groundhog Day is a holiday celebrated on February 2 in the United States and Canada. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then spring will come early. If it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks.
   The celebration, which began as a Pennsylvania German custom in southeastern and central Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, has its origins in ancient European weather lore, wherein a badger or sacred bear is the prognosticator as opposed to a groundhog. It also bears similarities to the Pagan festival of Imbolc, the seasonal turning point of the Celtic calendar, which is celebrated on February 1 and also involves weather prognostication and to St. Swithun's Day in July.
   The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where crowds as large as 40,000 have gathered to celebrate the holiday since at least 1886. Other celebrations of note in Pennsylvania take place in Quarryville in Lancaster County, the Anthracite Region of Schuylkill County, the Sinnamahoning Valley and Bucks County.
   Outside of Pennsylvania, notable celebrations occur in the Frederick and Hagerstown areas of Maryland, Marion, Ohio with Buckeye Chuck,  the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Woodstock, Illinois, Lilburn, Georgia, among the Amish populations of over twenty states and at Wiarton, Ontario, and Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, in Canada. The University of Dallas in Irving, Texas, has taken Groundhog Day as its official university holiday and organizes a large-scale celebration every year in honor of the Groundhog.
   The 1993 comedy movie Groundhog Day takes place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on this day (although the majority of the movie was actually filmed in Woodstock, Illinois) and the main character (played by Bill Murray) is forced to relive the day over and over again until he can learn to give up his selfishness ways and become a better person. In popular culture, the phrase "Groundhog Day" has come to represent going through a phenomenon over and over until one spiritually transcends it.
   Groundhog Day proponents state that the rodents' forecasts are accurate 75% to 90% of the time. A Canadian study for 13 cities in the past 30 to 40 years puts the success rate level at 37%. Also, the National Climatic Data Center reportedly has stated that the overall prediction accuracy rate is around 39%.

cast in stone


bernie sandersLook, it's Bernie Sanders — the Vermont socialist in the United States Senate. Click on his head to learn more.



my Visconti fountain penThis is John's favorite fountain pen. He use it to write the first drafts of many of the the reviews and other creations that are found all over the website.
It's a
red Rembrandt by Visconti.



Another thing.
Below are the two posters that stayed up the longest in my bedroom as I was growing up in Vermont. The Dylan poster was taken down after I wrote "Dylan is Boss" on it. As we all know, boss didn't remain cool for too long...maybe it retained it's coolness for a few days...at most. Yet, I've grown reattached to the word boss over the last few year. Whenever I use it, I love to watch the word "relic" display itself on my listener's faces. As for the Raquel Welch poster, it understandably retained its appeal for quite a few years, but slowly came apart from being tacked, taped up, and taken down in all those bedrooms, dorm rooms and apartments over the years...simply stunning. - John

                                                                   bob      RW

John & Linda living the life in Vermont
That's me and my sister Linda ...a few years back ... like fifty. - John



debra lyn bassett  chris stern  bonnie mewherter
Debra, Chris, and Bonnie, all loves from our past.




home | blog | site map | reviews | bookstore travelers | book awards | write to us | to the top