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Bookshop owner celebrates 25th anniversary with his own book (Includes interview and first-hand account)

“So many people immediately look (scroll down) at the end of our newsletter to see what Andy has to say,” said shop manager Jude Sales. “After many requests we have compiled the best of 15 years of Andy’s essays into a book called ‘The Ugly Man Sits in the Garden; Pieces of a Life.'”

Weinberger told the Sonoma Index Tribune earlier for a write up before the event, “It’s not quite a history or a memoir, but something in between.”
For those who live in and know Sonoma, Readers’ Books and Weinberger are an anchor for the community. Whenever a new book or lecture series is hosted at Readers’, it is were locals go. And, in a way it is more than books, it’s about the exchange of ideas, sharing of values and a place in town that is dependable.

In recent years, Sonoma has become very upscale, with a heavy emphasis on tourism. It is true, tourism was always a part of wine country. Yet it is becoming even more tourist-focused as the life-that-once-was (that of a small town, slower pace of life) is fading away. Yet as Readers’ the heart and spirit of the town, which actually consists of ordinary-everyday people is still much alive.

Bookshop owner  Andy Weinberger s first published book. He has more to come as he has been writing n...

Bookshop owner, Andy Weinberger’s first published book. He has more to come as he has been writing novels and other materials since the 1980’s.

The establishment of Readers’ emerged naturally out of Weinberger’s love of books and the fact that he is a writer. Back in the 1980’s he wrote four novels. But the rejection by publishers had him put his fiction writing “on the back burner,” as he said. Which might be why he is so supportive and encouraging of writers.

Many times Weiberger has not been shy about expressing what needs to be said on important issues. The weekly newsletter to Readers’ patrons has been a voice, not only for Weinberger himself in his personal views but for the entire community.

A recent example of this is when a local postal carrier, Kathy Gerletti died suddenly. When very little was said in the Sonoma Index-Tribune, (the town’s main newspaper) Weinberger expressed his grief and shock at her death in the Readers’ Newsletter. Had he not done so, only a few people in the community would have known. Through him, news got to the Sonoma Valley Sun.

Weinberger and his shop are at times a rallying point for locals. And for a community looking to maintain a sense of being down-to-earth amid constant change in a tourist-focused economy, that is crucial.

While high-tech and digital formats have changed publishing and bookstores tremendously over the past decade, Readers’ is still here, thanks to Weinberger and his staff. It continues to maintain its presence in the community and helps to provide a platform for local writers and artists.

Realtor-turned author Catherine Sevenau is among those local writers that appreciate Readers’ very much. When her first book was published two years ago, Readers’ was filled to capacity for the book signing. Since that initial book, Sevenau has gone on to write a second book, and is now the host of her own local radio show. A place like Readers’ helped solidify her readership base. She is very grateful and was among the many who attended Weinberger’s own book debut.

“I did attend the gathering that Thursday evening,” said Sevenau. “It was wonderful and quite touching. Andy and his wife Lilla are well loved, and Icons in this town. I thought it was a great idea for him to do that — to write a book.”
She noted that as soon as she got a copy she started reading it. “I am halfway through it. Most of it — (as taken from previous newsletters) I had not read before. [It] gives you a slice of life of being a small bookstore owner here in Sonoma,” Sevenau added.

Weinberger’s writing voice is easy to take in. The way he writes is much like the way he speaks, honestly and to the point. And, of course with humor. While the book’s debut is in celebration of Readers’ 25th Anniversary, it is also an affirmation and a return for Weinberger to writing. Recently, he has placed his staff in charge as he has moved to Los Angeles — making monthly visits back to town to check in. He has now completed a new novel and is in the process of finding a literary agent.

There are dozens of local authors Readers’ has featured or given a space to over the years. This reporter can name several like Sevenau that continue to write and make an impact as a result of an appearance at Readers’. She mentioned how good it was to see Weinberger have his turn in the spotlight. Weinberger and his staff were very pleased at the turnout on Oct. 27.

“We were so delighted to see many happy faces at the book launch,” said Lilla. “Some of you may be familiar with these essays, since they are a collection of our favorites from 15 years of newsletters.”

She also noted that they “could only go back about 15 years.” For all of those wondering why those morsels of Weinberger’s were left out, Lilla has a simple (enough) answer: “That’s a mystery.”

Readers’ Books is currently the only retailer that has “The Ugly Man Sits in the Garden; Pieces of a Life” — essays by Andy Weinberger. To purchase a copy or to learn more about Reader’s Books visit the web site or call (707) 939-1779. Readers’ Books is also on Facebook. And, Reader’s has a spot on Twitter.

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