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Meet Your Neighbors: Rebound Bookstore

Where:

Rebound Bookstore 1611 4th Street, West End Village, San Rafael 

What we love:

We love being more than just a retail outlet. A bookstore is a cultural center for thinkers and seekers. It’s a place of joy and exploration for children, a place of return to old imaginary friends for mature readers. It’s a place where the imagination is at home, where the sense of wonder is allowed its full expression. 

Who:

Owned and operated by Toni and Joel Eis

Who designed the shop?

The store was designed by Joel and Toni. Joel is a professional Scenic Designer and Toni is a photographer. 

What are you best known for?

 The welcoming atmosphere of the shop and the extensive book collection.

Before I was a shopkeeper, I was… 

A university professor of theatre and professional theatrical designer. Toni was a photographer, and Native American Art gallery manager in Durango, Colorado.

Who are your customers?

We have walk-in neighbors and tourists from around the world and the Bay Area. Many people look for book shops when they travel and locals consider a book shop a mainstay. Saturday morning the store is usually filled with families from the neighborhood with their kids. It looks like a daycare center.


Older folks come in for the deep collection of favorite authors that they cannot find in a new bookstore that usually carries mostly current popular titles. 

Is there a story behind the name of your shop?

We lived in San Francisco before I went to teach university. We came back “on the rebound” so that is the name Toni came up with. I think it’s great.

Where are your products from?

Our books come into the store from donations and sales. We go to estate, yard and big library sales for books.

What makes your shop unique?

We are one of the few indie mom-and-pop used bookstore on the entire 101 corridor between San Francisco and Santa Rosa. My wife and I are avid readers. I am a published author with three graduate degrees. We know books. We are told the shop has a welcoming vibe and a great selection of books in great condition at very good prices. 

Why did you want to open it?

It was our first choice after feeling a need to return to the Bay Area and leave academic life. When I came to look over the shop, a teenaged girl came out of the shop with a book clutched to her, looking ecstatic. I knew right then that a bookstore was what I wanted to do in my life.

The hardest lesson learned in starting a business?

Trusting your vision and business model in the community as it changed and grew.

The best lesson you’ve learned opening a shop?

Keep a sense of humor about it all. Stay open to new ideas. 

How has the shop enriched the community?

A bookstore is a place where thinking and interesting people shop and meet. We do literary and music events in the store. It serves as a meeting place and a cultural engine for the neighborhood the town and the North Bay. We have produced three lit-crawls,  like a pub crawl, but for literature of all kinds. Famous and local authors read their works—from children’s stories to erotica—in stores up and down the 4th Street corridor. We bring 500 people into two dozen stores for this all-day event. The Rebound Bookstore has helped put San Rafael on the cultural map of the larger Bay Area. 

How has the shop evolved since opening?

We have done more in and with the community, events that include our neighborhood. We’ve done about 140 events in the 14 years we’ve been open. We have refined our stock with unique collections, such as over 1,000 sci-fi fantasy books written by women, (possibly the biggest such collection in a single store in America), hundreds of westerns, a California and San Francisco collection, unique art and coffee table books. We have large psychology and classics sections, a lot of cookbooks. We feature an entire bookcase of local published authors 

Which famous person would you like to visit your shop?

The Obamas, Ian McClellan, his Holiness the Dalai Llama, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Alicia Gomez, (the high school girl who became so outspoken after the Parkland shootings)

What is your thought on the future of retail?

Our “neighborhood” is now the world. Online is the mall of the future, however the sensual experience of coming into a bookstore, handling the books, browsing the titles, getting lost in the shelves, can never be replaced by clicking images on a screen. The personal satisfaction, the adventure of finding what you are looking for or making a discovery that ignites your imagination is addictive. The smell of a bookstore is irreplaceable.