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Newsletter Number 3 • January 10, 2005

 

Len asked if I would write this month’s newsletter, so I decided to write a short history of our store, which in reality is my own history.

In 1973, my cousin Viktoras Kulvinskas had just self-published his first book “LOVE YOUR BODY,” a raw food recipe book, and needed someone to do fulfillment. So I found myself head of a one-man fulfillment center. While working with Viktoras he suggested I go to an Introductory lecture on Transcendental Meditation. So, I found myself luxuriating in the sublime atmosphere of the Cambridge TM Center.

Viktoras kept on publishing more books and I kept on shipping them out ...until I got the call. A lady friend had decided to move to Fairfield, Iowa to be with the large meditating community based there. She asked if I would like to do so as well. I packed my bags, loaded up a moving truck with Viktoras’s books, and ended up in Iowa shipping books from 401 N. 4th St.

The office I used for fulfillment had many large windows, which created a great look in view for passersby; and what they saw was stacks of books, which created the impression that we were a bookstore. So visitors would come in and ask to browse the mail order titles, and as more visitors arrived my front office space became a tight squeeze. I decided to open up the back unused rooms .. built more shelves and created a space for people to browse… which to make a long story short was the beginning of 21st Century Bookstore.

The store expanded and increased its inventory and thrived for many years until the arrival of the internet.. With it’s online bookselling ..gradually sales slumped until the decision was made to close the store.. Then we got the call.. Len and Dena Oppenheim, long time customers from California had recently moved to Iowa.. with their passionate love of books they could not see Fairfield losing its independent retail bookstore. An invitation was offered to discuss our future, which resulted in Len and Dena with other investors taking over ownership while my wife Sharon, and I remained managing the bookstore. This created a win-win situation. Len and Dena became owners of a bookstore, a desire Len had for quite some time. Sharon and I were able to continue in careers we both love and Fairfield continues to have a full service Independent bookstore.

Well there it is in a nutshell.

Looking back I clearly see my life like a set of dominoes one falling onto another.. the first one pushed by silence and the last domino will eventually fall back into silence. My one and only lesson was to let go into each of the fallings.

Dear customer our wish for you this new year is to experience the silence within in the daily hastiness of life. 
Tony Kainauskas

I am very pleased Tony took the opportunity to give a brief history of how he started 21st Century Books and how it expanded over the years. In his modesty I think he left out one very important fact. Tony has become incredibly knowledgeable about books, especially in the spiritual and esoteric areas. My life has been significantly impacted and improved by having read so many of the books Tony has recommended to me over the years. The pleasures and benefits I have gained from the hundreds of books I discovered and read from this bookstore over the last decade or more are so great that I couldn’t afford to let the store close. It is my hope that with our new location and new website we can provide to others a wonderful resource for discovering and obtaining great books that will impact them in a positive way as much as I have been impacted.

I would urge our customers to browse our website www.21stbooks.com, and/or to call or email Tony at the bookstore with any questions about good books to read. Also I would be pleased to hear any feedback or offer my own suggestions to anyone who wants to email me (leno@lisco.com).
Len Oppenheim

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