About Us


Celebrating four decades of promoting literacy and a love-of-books to readers of all ages around the world.


A Timeline

1979 - 1989

HICKLEBEE'S ARRIVES - In March 1979, four friends - Jan Gottlieb, Valerie Lewis, Georgia Osborne and Vicki Villarreal - prop open the door in a small space on Willow Glen's Lincoln Avenue and call it Hicklebee's: The Metamorphosis of the Bookworm.

SYCAMORES PLANTED - As new members of Willow Glen Merchants Association, the partners help start a move with City of San Jose to plant trees along the Avenue. (My, how they've grown.)

MONICA SIGNS ON - Monica Lewis Holmes joins sister Valerie and partner Jan Gottlieb as co-partner/owner of Hicklebee's. All are deeply involved promoting literacy, and are key leaders in related organizations, i.e., regional and national American booksellers associations.

HALL OF FAME AND AUTHOR ARTIFACTS - Artists Steve & Carol Schweppe create a first-of-its-kind display: delightful symbols of specific books, some pieces added by published authors and illustrators.

EDUCATION OUTREACH - Begin Preview Presentations; create book clubs for Children's Brithdays and Summer Reading; establish Teacher Wish List service and Junior Book Reviews Program. Begin the winter holiday Slipper Stories series. Launch calendar of authors-in-store events.

OUTREACH BROADENS - Set up author events at annual conferences with Reading Counsils of Santa Clara County, San Mateo, and Asilomar Regional. Extend events to schools and libraries that still partner with Hicklebee's. Start book fairs, fundraisers and school assemblies featuring authors.

COMMUNITY EXPANDS - Invite area schools to create store window displays; adopt Graystone School as part of Santa Clara County's Adopt-a-School program. Serena Murray heads up Hicklebee's, Where Books Come Alive! all ages dress as critters for Founder's Day Parade.

BAY AREA ALERT - Hicklebee's helps create the Northern California Children's Booksellers' Association and joins in reviewing children's books for newspapers, i.e., San Francisco Chronicle.


1989 - 1999

HICKLEBEE'S RELOCATES - Willow Glen area volunteers show up for Book Brigade! They cart books, shelves, desks, toys and all, piece by piece across the Avenue to Hicklebee's present building.

CO-OWNER VALERIE LEWIS ON TV - Begin 16-year stint reviewing books on CBS-TV Early Show.

COMMUNITY SPACE - Set up Resource Room as meeting place for teachers. Offer workshops i.e., Magic Integrating Literature & Self-Esteem. Begin Summer Writing Class for children to create books, and Press Conferences for young adults to meet YA authors. Invite college, preschools and clubs to hold meetings after hours. Establish Book of the Month.

GLOBAL FOCUS - Add Spanish story time. Adopt school Kiev - make pen pals, and book drive for Kiev. Valerie and Monica attend Bologna Book Fair. Valerie flies to Bulgaria and Latvia to share "indie" bookselling. She meets with Hilary Clinton at the White House re: Prescription Reading.

MORE LITERACY OUTREACH - Hicklebee's works with doctors to establish Read to Your Bunny program, and arranges Reading Day at the Mall. Through NCCBA Literacy Grants, we help create opportunities for citizens who promote literacy. We establish the SCRIP fund raising program for schools, the Hicklebee's Game Card, the Algonquin Roundtable (a teen club), and Thursday Night Family Night - a summer reading program.

MONICA AND VALERIE OFFSHOOTS - Monica initiates the idea of a Saturday Farmer's market at Willow Glen Elementary, and local team work brings it alive! Valerie co-writes Valerie and Walter's Best Books for Children: A Lively, Opinionated Guide. The sisters create Lewis Previews, a video series of seasons' best titles for K-6. Series plays in libraries and bookstores around the country.


1999 - 2010

LIFE SAVER - Ann Seaton joins Hicklebee's as Store Manager and saves our lives, every day!

CELEBRITY EVENINGS - Hicklebee's and Commonwealth Club of Silicon Valley host author Julie Andrews, Caroline Kennedy, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Their talks with Valerie air on NPR.

GRAND OPENINGS OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JUNIOR LIBRARY & NEW WILLOW GLEN BRANCH LIBRARY - Hicklebee's provides authors and books for these two major community celebrations.

BOOK BONUS PROGRAM - Reward loyal customers by inviting them to designate school or organization to receive books based on customer's accumulated purchases from Hicklebee's.

HICKLEBEE'S BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD - our entire staff votes for a favorite book of the season bi-annually.

WORTH A CANDLE - Carol Doup Muller highlights a revered backlist title each week.

EDUCATOR'S NIGHT - Valerie Lewis hosts an "open house" for teachers and librarians at the start of the school year.

HICKLEBEE'S SUMMER ADVENTURE CLUB - Durring the summer months, we host ongoing activites and contests to inspire reading.

ADULT BOOKS - Hicklebee's expands a section of "grown-up" books.

2010 - PRESENT

LIFE SAVER NO. 2 - Suzi Hough becomes the new store manager.

TRIVIA - Hicklebee's launches a series of popular ticketed trivia events to sold out crowds. Their focus is on topics like Harry Potter, Hamilton, and other literary and pop culture phenomenon.

Hicklebee’s is the go-to spot for literary organizations and educators to hold their meetings. Young Inklings gather for a celebration of their newest books annually at Hicklebee’s. We host SCBWI meetings and create panels for their membership on topics like best practices for school visits or marketing author events. Librarians, educator committees and organizations regularly make appointments with staff for book recommendations.

TWO MANAGERS - Erica Waligore and Lucy Corona become the new Floor Manager and Operations manager, respectively.

As a judge for the National Book Award (2016), Valerie read extensively and joined other judges to present March.

PRIZED AWARDS — Otter Award chosen by members of the Northern California Children’s Booksellers Association (2010); State Senator Joe Simitian presented Hicklebee’s with The 2009 Small Business of the Year “Award. Lucille M. Pannell Award by Women’s National Book Association (2004). Winner of national Scholastic Book’s Clifford Contest. Honored multiple times by the following: Voted Best Children’s Bookstore by Bay Area Parents Magazine, Metro News, and San Jose Mercury • Named Best Independent Bookstore in Silicon Valley by San Jose Mercury, & Best Bookstore by San Francisco Chronicle.

Our Book Clubs continue to be popular for readers of all ages. Adults reading YA: The Novel Society and Great Beginnings.

SECOND SATURDAY BOOK SWAP - Adult participants bring a book, share why they liked it, and swap for a different title. A book talk experience with all involved. 

MAJOR COMMUNITY LITERARY EVENTS - In September 2018, we hosted Chief Justice Sonya Sotamayor at our downtown theater where author Pam Munoz Ryan interviewed Justice Sotamayor followed by a book signing. Then in October, we rented a Fair Ground Pavilion where Dav Pilkey appeared before a crowd of 1400. It was a ticketed event except for 400 children and their chaperones from Title One Schools who were bussed in, given free signed books and an opportunity for each to meet Dav in person. We worked in conjunction with the library, city hall representatives and sought donations from the entire Santa Clara County community. Hicklebee’s hosted and planned the event along with a pre-show cocktail reception for library donors and a carnival for children waiting in line to have their books signed. In September 2019, Hicklebee's hosted graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier at a local school followed by a meet-and-greet with the author and illustrator herself.

POP-UP SHOPS - Pop-Up Shops Our out of store sales bring books to venues throughout the community via pop-up shops at conferences, libraries, author speaking events, corporate sites, and other opportunities. Recent events have included selling authors' books at comic cons and book festivals, organizing summer reading book sales at local schools, and curating book shops at companies like Adobe and Facebook. 


We bow to an ingenious, book-savvy staff whose shared years at Hicklebee's totals more than 200 years. May the joy of holding a book in our hands keep the front door swinging open.