Interview with Danielle, designer of the Don DeLillo stencil for California Bookstore Day


Photo courtesy of Zachary Ray. Follow him on Instagram

Photo by Zachary Ray. Follow him @


California Bookstore Day was May 3, 2014; an exciting day for booknerds all over the state. One of the greatest pieces offered was the stencil with a quotation from Don DeLillo‘s White Noise. I was so excited that a stencil had been made from a book quote, especially one that is so powerful and challenging, “California deserves whatever it gets.” I was fortunate to interview Danielle Hobart, who designed the stencil along with other collateral for the day.

How was your art selected?
Nepotism—Zack Ruskin (from Book Passage) and I are a couple and he was involved with Green Apple; starting this idea [California Bookstore Day] they worked together. It was Pete’s (of Green Apple)  idea and he’s been involved in the business for a really long time. I think he was inspired by record store day and realized that it could translate. Independent bookstores stay in touch and Zack was creating the website for California Bookstore Day and mentioned to Pete and Samantha that I would be super into working on something for them.

They had this idea of a stencil they wanted to make come to fruition and didn’t know how best to do that. And I was like yeah, I can totally how to do that. And I thought it was a great way to jumpstart my portfolio which since college, has been a little dormant.

So Pete from Green Apple and Sam wanted to do a stencil.
They conceived the idea and they wanted it to be this really great standout statement that would be about California, about reading, and bring those kinds of worlds together. The idea of using Don DeLillo and being a bad citizen is sort of the fire behind California Bookstore Day and just being a part of, being aware of your community, but also wanting to challenge it. We are in a position with amazon and books online where the bookstores have to fight to stay relevant and I think that the stencil embodies that sort of feistiness, as does the whole project. They had the quote, it was their baby, they wanted to go with that quote. Yeah unfortunately not my idea for the quote but I thought it was a great one to use.


How was it created?
It was just a really a simple graphic design job. Unfortunately, there was no grand brand scheme. I played around with a bunch of designs, we knew it would be laser cut which definitely affected how much detail we could put into it just because of the cost involved; laser cutting is really time consuming and expensive as soon as you get into minute details. So we had a rough draft where there was a white noise pattern under the quotation that we were crazy about but when we brought it to the woodshop or printers it just wasn’t going to be feasible because we didn’t want to charge people $50 so we had to stay in budget.

We went over a bunch of different design concepts and we wanted it to be a look that if you did see it stenciled on the street that you would have to check twice to see if it’s a real warning or not. You know when MUNI uses spray paint to say, “this is no longer a bus stop and we’re gonna ruin your day”.  Something that people would look at and think was sort of official. I wanted to keep it with nice clean lines and a modern look because that old army stencil font is just so tired.

How long did it take you to create?
I started working on it in December and we had the holidays to contend with which are  just a super busy time. So it was sort of in process for a few months, I think it really got done in April, but just a tweak here and there; definitely a learning experience.

What did you learn?
I learned about working with clients and the delicate balance between making a product that will sell and look good which thankfully I think we achieved and communicating some really original vision which is hard when you’re just trying to keep it to a very simple font and something that can be cut quickly and easily. One of the original fonts we had, the letters were hand-lined so when the printers looked at it they said it would take the machines a lot longer to follow it and to actually be able to cut it out so the cost would be exorbitant. So we had to just scrap any sort of hand done work which was a little  crushing, honestly, to be like, “oh dang, it can’t be something I drew” but maybe next year we’ll get there. We’ll get a boon from this year.

Where were the bookmarks and mini-posters made?
I worked with the printers at Geary Street print shop. They did my bookmarks and my posters and the stickers. I did all of that as well. I made the bookmark for California Bookstore Day, the one that is red on the back, and I did their flyers, and the sticker that’s on the package for the stencil. I think the wood shop was different. Those I did just as a sort of volunteer portion just to be involved and then the stencil. I graciously received a stipend because they got a grant from James Patterson.

James Patterson gave away a ton of money to a bunch of independent bookstores recently. And he gave California Bookstore Day their own grant to keep working, expanding, and growing. So they called me and said, “Great news, we can pay you!” That was really nice.

I remember when I saw James Patteson speaking about the importance of independent bookstores on the news.
It’s amazing, I guess one in ten books sold is a James Patterson book. He’s gotta be up there with Jesus, right? The Bible’s gotta be up there as well. But James Patterson makes so much money on his book sales and is so successful that he just wanted to return the favor to the industry that supports him. And it’s so amazing. He’s made such a huge difference for so many bookstores. Book Passage got a grant too so they were able to buy a van. They do offsite events with schools and I think it’s going to make it easier for them to do outreach.

I believe the stipulation is you must have a children’s section to apply for a grant.
Yeah, they do good events. Green Apple have their great [children's] section upstairs. And then California Bookstore Day had their great kids’ items that were really cute. One of the authors that did the joke book, she used to write Animorphs, those books that we read in elementarty school, it’s a sci-fi series about these kids who turn from children into animals. And they all had holographic covers. It was when Goosebumps was really big. She did the jokes, and the joke book is called Do You Smell Carrots?

How many stencils were produced?
I don’t know because the orders came in until the last minute.

Don DeLillo stencil, Jason Arnold, Stitches

I don’t know if they were replenishing throughout the day but  when I was there, there were only three or four on the stand at the Booksmith when I was there at 11am.
I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Green Apple party at the end of the weekend because they won Best Bookstore from Publishers Weekly which is fantastic, they’re doing so great. Paul and someone from City Lights was there. I met him and it was really fantastic to get to talk to him and we have a similar perspective of artists in the city, struggling. He said, “Oh man we should have ordered more. I saw it and I was so upset”. I think because we were working on it for so long, we had sort of a working proof to show bookstores when they were doing their ordering process but I used a jpeg of woodgrain, so it looked pretty silly but when people saw the finished product, they said we should have ordered more and I think we did them to order.

I bought one for my parents because I didn’t know if it would stick around or not. And I brought it to my parents and my mom said, “I don’t know what it means so I’m not going to put it up yet”. I said, “it means I did something great,” and she said, “I don’t want people coming to my house and seeing that if I don’t know what that means”. “Oh mom, ok, well I’ll get you a copy of the book.”

What did you study in school?
Fine art as well as modern literature. Literature from here and there, I suppose. And I focused mainly on painting and drawing but I also dabbled in photography and printmaking. I think printmaking would be something I would be more involved in if the spacial studio demands weren’t so high. You can get away with wood blocks in like kind of contained spaces but no one is giving me a press, you know? Since graduating, I’ve had to adjust to not having a big huge studio and managing a full time job (or two) at the same time. My focus is really switched to things that I can contain and do in my apartment or  do outside and take with me. I’ve done a lot of photography since leaving school and messing around on the computer and graphic design that I can do for friends and side projects; it’s a great way to feel like I’m still working on stuff.

Where did you go to school?
UC Santa Cruz.

Why is California Bookstore Day so important?
It’s a great way for  bookstores to connect with their consumers and customers and for bookstores to be relevant and in touch with their publishers. I know that a big part about getting these pieces made, was that the publishers had to agree that it was ok for the living authors—Neil Gaiman made this whole new book—that he would only be able to sell it in California for on this one day or starting on this one day. I’m sure they could have made a lot more money if they released it everywhere but it means so much more for them to do something special and to contribute to a culture of going to bookstores and reading and being excited about books. I think the fact that everyone did it and then these 93 California bookstore day participants were all like yeah, we’re gonna staff these events and we’re gonna come up with cool events to make people excited about coming. And the publishers all thought these are great ideas and products that we can make. And the fact that everyone came out and bought stuff and supported their bookstores was fantastic. It says something, that it’s relevant and important to have those sort of community connections. And I think it’s on trend. There’s a big push, at least in San Francisco, of having strictly neighborhood shopping nights and events, like street faire. I know Bold Italic does great neighborhood events, for us, it’s Clement Time, and Green Apple is always there with a keg. I don’t think there’s anything more luxurious than going to your bookstore and getting a beer and just walking around. There was beer at California bookstore day too and it was fantastic.

I didn’t know anyone there but I wanted to be a part of it. It was kind of funny to see all the introverts in one space because no one was talking to each other but everyone was smiling.
Because everyone was blissed out on the inside.

It was fun to hear everyone say what did you get? What did you get? I bought two copies of Neil Gaiman’s book, don’t worry it didn’t end up on ebay; it went to a lovely home in Canada.
I loved a week or two after the Bookstore Day, California Bookstore Day posted on facebook,

“Trying to buy a Neil Gaiman on ebay for $75? Don’t be an idiot, Come down to one of bookstores that still has it. It’s still just regular priced.” So they said, here’s the list of people that had it to begin with. The whole thing was that they could start selling it that day and if it remained it was just going to be for sale.

Who designed the actual logo for California Bookstore Day?
The girl who designed the bear and logo is also named Danielle and she works at Green Apple; she’s very sweet. I saw her yesterday and I said, oh hey, it’s you! She has an etsy shop that you can find on the California Bookstore Day facebook page.

Will California Bookstore Day expand and become national?
They began with California because it would have been unwieldy to take on more; it was a great test run to deal with one time zone. But we’re hoping that sooner than later it’s national instead. I think once they’re able to look at their numbers and see how impactful it was, people will be clamoring to join in. Because there are so many authors that could be involved. We’re really lucky in this area with a huge plethora of California writers to be involved.

Full disclosure: I am in a Professional Ladies Group which is where I met Danielle. A month later I posted a blog entry about California Bookstore Day and my prized Don DeLillo stencil. A mutual friend told me that Danielle designed the stencil so I asked her if I could do an interview. And she very kindly agreed.

Thank you to the gracious Zachary Ray for allowing me to use his awesome instagram pic of the stencil.


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A Portrait of My Father, the Reader, in Books

John Kobler, Capone
My dad read the newspaper everyday. The San Francisco Chronicle and The Pacifica Tribune. He always had one book he was reading. But he worked full time and likes to build things so he did not have too much time to read. Since he retired, his reading has increased exponentially. I wish I would have thought to chronicle the books he’s read before now.

While my dad loves reading, he does not believe that he needs to keep the book after reading it. In his mind, once he has read the book it has served its purpose and is now just taking up space. While I do not agree with him, I see the value and respect his opinion. Ideally one would read a book and remember everything about it, never needing to look at it again. Alas, my memory is poor and so I keep my books. My dad oftentimes gives his books to a relative, friend, or donates them. So these are just the books we had in the house when I decided to start documenting his books.

He likes to read non-fiction. Maybe 1% of his books are fiction. Whenever father’s day, Christmas, or his birthday come around I go to the bookstore and spend close to an hour searching for the right books. He loves history, biography, cultural affairs, and crime novels. Our interests are similar: most books I buy him I would like to read but choose not to only out of lack of time. And what’s great is he always is excited about the books I’ve bought him.

Poor Dad, he made a bookcase for himself that ended up in my old room; which I slowly started to take over even though I no longer live there.

While we never read books side by side on vacation or at home, he always promoted my love for reading. I knew that he considered reading a luxury and that it was a wonderful thing to have the time to read.


Note: some books that are missing are his many books on the Vietnam War. He was drafted when he was 18 and was a mechanic on planes. Those books he tends to give to his brother after reading them.

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Reading and Rereading the Same Books as a Child

My mother always understood that the key to education and doing well in school was reading; she read to me every night. She took me to the library for reading time and we would check out the same books over and over. We had stacks of library books next to the couch. And when we went on vacation, she packed a bag full of books, and she would read to me while my dad drove the truck. I had some favorites that have stuck with me through the years. I remember when Brownie and Puff knocked over cans of paint and made new colors. I remember crawling under the living room table to read the tales of Peter Rabbit. I don’t really remember us buying many of these books; they just seemed to magically appear. When I was older, my parents would take me to the bookstore. My dad would always tell me to pick out a book. While waiting in line, he would always ask, did you see another one? Go get it!

I tortured my poor mother, making her read and reread my favorite books, two of which I cannot find. They were dinosaur books, with horribly long names and my mom would try to skip a page but I knew she was skipping and I would wail, “MOM, you’re SKIPPING a page!!!!” Poor Mom would lick her lips, flip back the page, and resume reading.

Discovering Ramona Quimby was like finding a kindred spirit. She was quirky, weird, and curious. She emptied an entire tube of toothpaste in the sink. Her mother scooped it into a jar and made Ramona use that toothpaste while the rest of the family used a brand new tube. I often think of her when I brush my teeth.

I had a little Disco record player and I would play my records and read along over and over. Over and over. That was even better, because there were sound effects and music.

Looking over these books I realize that I liked mysteries from a young age. The Berenstain Bears and the case of the missing pumpkin! Freaky Francie was a detective. The Great Brain series always featured mysteries and con games.

And the comics! Oh I had stacks and stacks of those. We used to buy them at the flea market. I was interested in Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Dennis the Menace, and eventually Archie and much later, Star Wars. Whenever we would go to the bookstore I would flip through a huge Mickey Mouse comic book. It was so big and so expensive (maybe $40) that I never asked for it. But of course my parents noticed me gravitate towards the book and one Christmas I received it. I read and reread that book. It is one of my most treasured items.

I cannot imagine who I would be if my parents would not have encouraged and indulged my love of reading. The incredible thing is that my mother gets easily distracted and has a hard time finishing a book. She always regretted not having the concentration to read so much. My father, when he worked full time, read some but not nearly as much as now that he is retired. So both of them went out of their comfort zone to instill what they considered the most important skill their child could have, an insatiable appetite for reading.

Walt Disney, Mickey Mouse, comic

Books that are not shown here are the books about Frances the Badger. Those ones we checked out over and over from the library. Bread and Jam for Frances, Bedtime for Frances, A Baby Sister for Frances, A Birthday for Frances, Best Friends for Frances.

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My Book Addiction—revealed to the dollar

books, books

Last year’s holiday season I decided to buy all of my friends used books. I love giving presents but sometimes it can make someone feel awkward for not giving you a gift. But a second-hand book takes out all the guilt. They are less than a drink and oftentimes less than, or the same price as a cup of coffee. I started to track how much money I spent on books for gifts. Then I realized it would be fun to see how much money I spent on books in a year. I often times look at my bookcases and wonder how much I have spent. When a friend suggests we get a manicure, I always think, but I could get a book with that money. No judgement on women who pay to get their nails done; from what I understand it is often about indulging one’s self. For me, buying a book is a much greater indulgence and seeing a new book on my shelf makes me so much happier than looking at professionally painted nails.

So below are all my indulgences. Some were bought as gifts for friends and family. Some were bought for me by my parents (they always generously indulged, encouraged, and groomed my reading habits). Some were gifts from friends. And the majority of them I have bought. Full price, on sale, discounted, and second hand. My book collecting really took a major upturn when I discovered (years ago) that second hand shops sold books.

And so I present my book expenses for the first six months of 2014. I have not bought a new purse or jacket in over three years; I have perfectly good ones: why waste money on another one when I can buy more books? Please hear the self-deprecation in that last sentence.

Book #   Date          Book title        Author         Price//With Tax

36_6.14.14     Last Call by Daniel Okrent (for Dad) $18//$19.57
35_6.14.14    Subversives by Seth Rosenfeld (for Dad) $24//$26.1
34_6.9.14     Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott $16//$17.4
33_6.9.14      Salinger by David Shields and Shane Salerno $6.99//$7.6
32_6.10.14    Tibetan Peach Pie by Tom Robbins $26//no tax
31_5.27.14     Earth Afire (gift from parents) by Orson Scott Card $8.99//$9.77
30_5.18.14    The Shadow of the Wind (for Colin) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon $1.99//no tax
29_5.13.14    The Elegance of the Hedgehog (for Franky) by Muriel Barbery $1.49//$1.62
28_5.10.14    In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson $1.99//no tax
27_5.10.14    Inferno by Dan Brown $3.29//no tax
26_5.10.14    Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climate (for Maureen) Tom Robbins  $1.99//no tax
25_5.3.14      The Sleeper and the Spindle (for me) by Neil Gaiman $18//$19.57
24_5.3.14      The Sleeper and the Spindle (for Tzuen) by Neil Gaiman $18//$19.57
23_4.28.14    The Satanic Verses (1st ed, HC) by Salman Rushdie $3.29//no tax
22_4.27.14     A Curse on Dostoevsky by Atiq Rahimi $14.95//$16.25
21_4.27.14     Ready Player One by Ernest Cline $14//$15.22
20_4.19.14     The Queen of the South by Arturo Perez-Reverte  $1.99//no tax
19_4.13.14      How Soon is Never? (for Jessica) by Marc Spitz $1.99//no tax
18_4.13.14      The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling $3.29//no tax
17_3.30.14      Cheri and the Last of Cheri by Colette $1.99//no tax
16_3.30.14      Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1st ed, HC) by Salman Rushdie $3.29//no tax
15_3.23.14      The Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton $1.50//$1.63
14_3.23.14      Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh $2//$2.17
13_3.23.14     Rant by Chuck Palahniuk $1.75//$1.92
12_3.23.14     The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales $1.75//
11_3.15.14     Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (for Charlie)Robert M. Pirsig $1.99//no tax
10_3.1.14      The Ground Beneath Her Feet (for Erin) by Salman Rushdie $1.64//no tax
9_2.19.14      Bury Me Standing by  Isabel Fonseca $1.99//no tax
8_2.19.14      The Worst Intentions by Alessandro Piperno $1.99//no tax
7_2.8.14        Weird But True! National Geographic for kids* $7.95//$8.66//4.33
6_2.8.14        Prince of the Elves* by Kazu Kibuishi $12.99//$14.15//7.13
5_2.8.14       Last Council* by  Kazu Kibuishi $12.99//$14.15//7.13
4_1.21.14       I am Charlotte Simmons (for Aunt Eva) by Tom Wolfe $1.99
3_1.11.14       The Seville Communion (for Sada) by Arturo Perez-Reverte .50//no tax
2_1.3.14        White Teeth by Zadie Smith $1.99//no tax
1_1.3.14         Born Standing Up by Steve Martin $1.99//no tax

$243.91 for 36 books over 6 months. That’s roughly $40 a month. Not bad. Not bad at all.

*bought for Ari’s eighth birthday and split with Randy Maupin



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ready for a new binge book? Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is ready for you

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline, Gib

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is addicting. It is the book that you flake on friends for. It is the book you stay up late until your eyes are burning and you fall asleep sitting up with your cat on your lap. It is the book you ignore phone calls for. And it is certainly the book you sink into and forget all else. My friends Tzuen and Gib insisted I read it. They had both bought it the same day and had already finished reading it by the time I saw them (two days later). They sat on the couch next to each other reading their separate copies of the book.

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline, Gib

In the future everyone spends their time in an alternate online reality, called the OASIS. People spend more awake time in the OASIS then they do in reality. People work and attend school in the OASIS. People spend money for non-existent items that allow their avatars to do more things (clothing, space ships, weapons, magic items) but only in virtual world. The creator of the OASIS was a huge video game nerd who grew up in the eighties and was forever nostalgic for eighties culture. He created games and worlds in homage to the decade; his final will and testament, which was spliced with scenes from Heathers and John Hughes’ movies, stated that he had placed puzzles within the OASIS and whoever solves them will inherit his fortune and control the OASIS. A private company realizes the monetary gains to be had by whoever controls the OASIS so they hire people to explore the virtual reality full time. They have a seemingly endless budget and people sign contracts that they will hand over the control of the OASIS to the company.

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline, Gib

There are so many relevant plot lines, threads, and characters to this book. The book is especially resonant for anyone that is not part of the wealthy elite. Wade was born in the stacks—”to maximize the ground space. . . . and trailer parks across the country had quickly evolved into ‘stacks’ like this one—strange hybrids of shantytowns, squatter settlements, and refugees camps. (21) After his teen parents die, his aunt takes him in for the extra food and lodging doled out by the government. She in turn steals his food, his property, and kicks him out of the trailer. Wade is overweight because of his “bankrupt diet of government-subsidized sugar-and-starch-laden food” and being an OASIS addict who never exercises. (30) Being poor is a crime, and if you go into debt you are thrown into debtor’s prison. For Wade, without great grades for a scholarship, he has no chance of going to college, therefore his job opportunities are low. So he spends all of his time searching for the hidden clues to win the fortune.

This book appears to be a self-indulgent fun story filled with pop culture references. And then bam! without any foreshadowing, a huge dialogue about race. And then, another dialogue about being queer. And this is not a case of Beverly Hills 90201 preaching about white people understanding racism or straight people having one queer friend. This book has serious plot lines that stick with you and make you think about poverty, power, resources, global energy crisis, gender, and beauty. I will not spoil the plot for you; it would be cruel to take away your pleasure at discovering all these things. But I do promise you that this book will keep you thinking long after you finish it. And more than likely, you’ll be planning on rereading it before you finish it.



Check out Ernest Cline’s website; it is definitely the most witty and thoughtfully designed author website I have ever visited. And, he offers something no other author does, to sign your copy of his book if you send it to with him a self-addressed stamped envelope. I’m going to send my copy in for an autograph.

Note: first image is Gib with his copy of the book. Second image is Tzuen’s copy of the book on her balcony in Canada. Third image is Christina with her newly bought copy after hearing my rave reviews.

Ernest Cline. Ready Player One. Crown Publishing Group: New York, 2011.




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