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The Battle of the Bookstores Threatens to Spread to Ojai : Ironically, Earthling Bookshops, fighting the chain store battle in Santa Barbara, is viewed as the interloper in this case.

January 13, 1994|FRANCES HALPERN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Independent bookstores are locked in deadly combat with chain stores like Barnes & Noble, Bookstar and Crown, who are opening mega-stores all over the country, usually within walking distance of successful independents.

The chains insist there is room for everyone. The independents claim they are struggling to keep their doors open. Independents claim that it is not a level playing field because the chains are able to buy from publishers and wholesalers at deeper discounts.

In an ironic twist, a bookstore war may be developing in Ojai between the small Table of Contents and the independently owned Earthling Bookshops of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. When news spread through Ojai that Earthling planned to open in the vacated Bank of America building on Ojai Avenue, some locals sent angry letters of protest calling Earthling a large enterprise that has no place in their town. The irony is that Penny and Terry Davies, Earthling's owners, who considered themselves under siege by the newly opened Barnes & Noble super-store in Santa Barbara, are now themselves perceived by some in Ojai as chain store interlopers. We hope that the booksellers of Ojai and Earthling's owners will work out a plan that will benefit everyone.

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"Can I Tell You Brother?" a one-man play presented by Phillip Walker of the Afro-American Drama Company, will be presented to youngsters 5 and up at 7 p.m. tonight in the Thousand Oaks Library, 1401 E. Janss Road. In a series of vignettes, the show will highlight black heroes of American history through poetry, music, puppetry and storytelling. Call 499-8272 for details.

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Cafe Voltaire sponsors poetry readings every Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Livery, 34 N. Palm St., Ventura. Call 641-1743 for information.

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Friends of the Camarillo Library will host an open house to introduce the community and especially visually impaired individuals to a new reading machine, the Reading Edge. Nancy Smith, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Ventura County, is coordinating the event, scheduled at 10 a.m. Saturday at the library, 3100 Ponderosa Drive.

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Collin Wilcox visits Mysteries to Die For to sign "Find Her a Grave" and "Switchback" at 2940 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks.

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The Baseball, Sports Card & Comic Book Exchange, a supervised trading-only event for kids age 8 to 16, is scheduled from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Thousand Oaks Library. Call 493-2179.

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Arthur Moore, author of "The Game of Death," will teach a six-week workshop on the art of writing mystery and suspense, starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Learning Tree University's Thousand Oaks campus, 1408 Thousand Oaks Blvd. A former president of the California chapter of Mystery Writers of America, Moore has published more than 70 novels and 130 short stories and articles. Call 497-2292 for registration information.

Words & Images columnist Frances Halpern is an author and radio talk show host. Submit literary events information to her at least two weeks in advance to 5200 Valentine Road, Suite 140, Ventura, 93003. Send faxes to 658-5576.

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