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diesel

a good comfortable place to browse
DIESEL - A BOOKSTORE
5433 College Ave. (at Kales, near Manila)
Oakland CA 94618
(510) 653-9965
www.dieselbookstore.com
(October 2009 review)

overall feel & design
DIESEL
sits on a nice stretch of College Ave, has a lot of windows on the front (with that distinctive sign) and goes for an industrial look on the inside (galvanized metal, some uniquely designed floor fixtures, and a high open raftered ceiling with exposed ductwork) that is offset by warm, well-designed, lightly-stained wooden fixtures. The store decorations were interesting, the signing could be better, and there's a fireplace and some interesting artwork on the back wall. Overall there is a nice use of space in the store, without making it feel overcrowded. The shelves are arranges such as to create alcoves and other areas all through the store  ̶  these spaces seem very people-sized and personal. The store is roomy enough that you can move around the store quite easy. Even when the chairs are setup for a reading, there's room to get to all the sections. 

staff
All of the staff members we've spoken with, have seems quite friendly and knowledgeable. I think his name was Sean, who searched through several areas and found a copy of the book Nog that I was on a quest for. He didn't give up, he kept looking, all the while asking more about the book  ̶  a good man.

the selection
The book selection for the store is good and new titles are well represented. They have all the major sections a general independent bookstore should have and they don't cover tables with a bunch of seen-it-everywhere sale books. The children's section is set off to one side, at the front of the store, includes half of the front windows, and was well-stocked with some space for display. The afore-mentioned alcoves make moving around the store interesting as you turn a corner and discover another cluster of subjects in their own space. They do put Fiction and Mystery at the very back of the store, where they're harder to find, similar to those supermarkets that send you throughout the store when all you want is bread and milk. Layout is something that your normal customer doesn't give much thought to, but having designed five different bookstores, we notice it when it works, and when it needs help. Not much to complain about, but we've done it. The children's section has a pleasant space at the front of the store with lots of chances for display, including the window. They have used books mixed into the sections, but not a great deal of them. We didn't see a lot of discounting going on, but for lovers of new books, that shouldn't stop you from picking up a fine book here. There are some appealing titles in every section and it's a pleasure to browse DIESEL.  
t-shirtIn the nonbook area, they do have a small selection of some good magazines, quite a few calendars (they are fresh & in season now), those bright store T-shirts, and a small Republic of Tea display. In the front of the store, opposite the children's section,  is a separate area with a selection of cards, blank books, paper, shopping bags, and more.


display
DIESEL staffers create many displays around the store, and while the books are interesting, they tend not to be too creative display-wise. The staff recommendations are given good exposure and there are well done recommendations (shelf talkers) throughout the store. The newly released titles are offered right up front on the center tables and elsewhere around the bookstore. Many of the fixtures are designed to give a lot of opportunity for additional book display. There are lots of chances for books to catch your eye. Overall, their display choices always seem to be tugging at those very few dollars in my pocket.

store events
DIESEL's list of sore events for just the Oakland store is extensive and includes an array of writers, poets and illustrators. We stopped by when there was a poetry reading with a couple of poets associated with Poetry Flash that attracted a fair number of listeners. In the next month they will have several book launch parties, some more poetry readings, a book club meeting, writers for adults and younger readers, and someone I am looking forward to, Michael Chabon. 

website www.dieselbookstore.com
The site is alive, interesting and supplies a lot of information and entertainment. And yes, books can be ordered online. You can find out who's appearing, at what events, at all three location (Oakland, Brentwood & Malibu), see the DIESEL bestsellers list, order one of their colorful T-shirts, and read plenty of staff recommendations. They also archive the store newsletters, have some fascinating materials from the book world within the Front Page Archives section, and are very creative in Show & Tell. I could tell you more, but you should just go take a look for yourself.

inside

kudos for things that caught John's eye
    ̶  the pleasant color green of the stained concrete floor
    ̶  that odd painting above the fireplace, of a bearded man hugging a giant fish and surrounded by daisies

? maybe change
    ̶  could be our more mature eyes, but a little brighter lighting would be helpful
    ̶  section signs are very high up, light orange letters on clear plastic, which makes them harder to read and not easily noticeable
    ̶  the store book displays and front windows seem a little flat, without any flare or props ... could be we were there when they hadn't been worked on lately
    ̶  Fiction and Mystery are at the very back of the store ... a little harder to find

store hours (as of this October 2009 review)
Monday-Thursday 10am-9pm
Fridays & Saturdays 10am-10pm
Sundays 10am-6pm

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