Once again, changes are afoot for Cody’s Books, with president and three-decade former owner Andy Ross announcing his retirement as president last week and Hiroshi Kagawa, former CEO of the corporation that bought Cody’s, stepping in as interim president and head of a new ownership group.
In September 2006, Ross—after shuttering Cody’s Books on Telegraph in July—met with reporters in the airy Fourth Street store to announce the sale of the business that included both Fourth Street and the San Francisco stores to Yohan, Inc., a Tokyo-based foreign publications dealer, publisher and retailer.
Introduced to reporters at the same time, Kagawa expressed an affinity for the store. “I’ve loved Cody’s ever since I visited the store in 1983,” he said.
Yohan closed down the San Francisco store in April, the same month that Tokyo-based Polaris Principal Finance, an investment bank, acquired 60 percent of InterCultural Group, the holding company that has controlled Yohan since December 2006.
“By accepting this investment from Polaris, ICG hopes to strengthen its financial standing and improve profit power. By concentrating resources on selected operations, Polaris will restructure ICG's operations portfolio and improve the company's growth with the goal of going public within three years,” according to the Yohan website.
Kagawa resigned the positions of Yohan CEO, president of IGC and president of Yohan Book Service, Inc. on Sept. 30.
The new umbrella group which he heads, whose name has not yet been made public, will own Cody’s, Stonebridge Press, located in Albany, which specializes in English-language books about Japan and Asia, and IBC Publishing, which publishes books that support English learners and books that introduce Japan to foreigners.
“Polaris wasn’t interested in keeping Cody’s,” Mindy Galoob, Cody’s business manager, told the Daily Planet in an interview Saturday.
Galoob said there may be changes at Cody’s, but first, she said, she wants to know more about what customers want—she may use surveys and/or focus groups to do this.
“We want to be sure Cody’s stays a Berkeley institution,” Galoob said. “We want to remain a local bookstore.”
Galoob, 30, came to Berkeley in September—from Oklahoma via Washington D.C.—to accompany her husband who is a doctoral program at Boalt Law School. She said she is pleased to be where people are community-oriented.
She said that llike Amazon, Cody’s has a presence on the internet. The difference, however, she says, is that customers can interact by phone with a real person at Cody’s who knows about the books, while they can’t at Amazon.
Cody’s was founded in 1956 by Fred and Pat Cody.