Bill Petrocelli

News, Notes, & Opinions

May 23 – Ever been to a Literary Death Match? Adrian Todd Zuniga has been leading them for years in cities all over the county, and they sound hilarious. I got a chance to talk to him about that and more in a recent podcast that was sponsored by our mutual publisher Rare Bird Books.  I’m ready to head to the next “Literary Death Match” when it comes back to town!

May 22- I will be on the faculty for the Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference which runs from Thurs., Sept. 27, through Sun., Sept. 30. This is the 25th year of this annual Conference, and it has produced some great mystery writers. You get to work with lots of editors, writers, agents, publishers, but you also have a chance to hang out with cops, D.A.s, and coroners and find out how they do their jobs.

May 21- will be one of the speakers at the National Kidney Foundation Lunch in San Francisco on November 3  at the S.F. Marriott Marquis. I’ll be talking about what goes into writing a novel like Through the Bookstore Window. This is a very prestigious event and the biggest of its kind in San Francisco. Am I excited? You betcha!

May 20 – I will be at Laurel Book Store at 14th & Broadway in downtown Oakland for Through the Bookstore Window on Thursday, May 24, 6:30 pm. This is exciting! I was born in Oakland, and my first job was about two blocks away.

End the Electoral College

Now’s the time to challenge it and change it.

The  Electoral College doesn’t work the way that Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and the other drafters of the Constitution intended. They would be appalled to see how the 2016 election ended up with minority rule. This can be changed, and it must be done so now. The Electoral College is like a rogue ship that set out years ago from its original anchorage in the Constitution. It is now floundering—unable to go back to its 18th century moorings. But it is equally unable to reach the safety of the 14th Amendment and the “one-person, one-vote” requirement that has been the law ever since the last century. It’s a ship that’s ready to sink.

This website will be presenting information about the Electoral College and how to challenge it. We can make it happen! You can reach me at

Part 4: Electoral Bait & Swtich

A modern Presidential election is an all-consuming process that lasts for almost two years, costs well over $5 billion, and dominates American life like nothing else. In 2016 there were more than 135,000,000 votes cast for President, making it one of the largest elections in history. Americans are constantly reminded that they’re voting for the most important office in the world. While this long process is going on, the country is inundated with speeches, interviews, promos, news clips, endorsements, social-media spots, and attack ads. Although the political pros knew to focus on swing-states in the latter days of the campaign, candidates spend most of those two years crisscrossing the country throughout the primaries and general election, searching for endorsements and money, and making campaign stops everywhere. Debates among the candidates are carried nationwide, and they become some of the most highly watched shows of the year.

Then, on a Tuesday in November, everything comes to an end when the nation votes. And then . . . and then Americans wait to see if the election will turn out the way they voted or whether something else will happen.

Part 3: What Did Hamilton & Madison Have in Mind?

The original Electoral College was nothing like we see today. The framers of the Constitution did not create a popular election for President, but they settled instead on a collegial-method of selecting a President through a group of independent Electors. Nowhere in their nightmares did they contemplate that the Electoral college would be used to distort or devalue a popular vote.

Part 2: The Electoral College’s Other Problem

Throughout the entire 20th Century, Americans became used to the idea that the winner of the popular vote would take office as President. But when the voters’ will was thwarted in 2000 and 2016, it became clear that the Electoral College could seemingly emerge out of nowhere and change the outcome of the election and alter the course of history. But there’s another, long-term harm built into that Electoral College that has been there all along, and that becomes more apparent the more you look at it.

Part 1: The Electoral College is Unfair & Dangerous

There’s some guy in Wyoming whose vote is worth three times more than mine. This has been going on in every presidential election for my entire life, and I’m sick and tired of it. How does this happen? It’s because of the way the Electoral College has been rigged to work. It takes about three times as many votes to elect an Elector in California as it does to elect one in Wyoming.

This is a blatant form of voting discrimination, and the sooner it ends the better.

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Behind the Bookshelves

It started in a bookstore

The first Human Rights movement started in a bookstore. On May 22, 1787, twelve people gathered in London to begin a process that would lead to the end of the British slave trade. It was the first time that any group had ever been formed to protect the rights of other people — not just the rights of themselves.
Bookstores have a long tradition of independent thinking, and they have often served as gathering places for their communities.

Hold the Presses!

When a book becomes a major news story, local news services often run to local bookstores to see what the story feels like on the ground. That was the case with Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury when the news hit the fan in January. That’s when this photo began its world-wide journey from Book Passage.

Who Needs Publishers & Bookstores? Just about Everyone

An idea has taken root in certain quarters that publishers aren’t necessary. And for that matter, who needs bookstores? According to this facile argument, they’re both are just relics of the pre-internet days. This is a very misguided idea.


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Through the Bookstore Window

Through the Bookstore Window is a novel that explores the grim effects of war, gun violence, and sexual abuse. But it is also a story about love that transcends age, gender, background, and – perhaps – the readers’ expectations.

“It’s a rare mystery that can deliver so much in the way of pure emotional resonance. Bill Petrocelli’s Through the Bookstore Window is such a book. This is a thriller with a heart.” 

Janis Cooke Newman, author of A Master Plan for Rescue

Buy a copy of the book

Great Quotes from Writers & Booksellers

If you’re a novelist, there’s nothing better than great quotes from other writers and booksellers. Fame and fortune is nice, but you can’t exist without the respect of your peers. Here are some quotes  I love.

” a gripping tale about an enigmatic and fascinating woman”

Linda Watanabe McFerrin, who heads up Left Coast Writers, calls Through the Bookstore Window “a gripping tale about an enigmatic and fascinating woman who is driven to outrun and outwit her tormentors and fix what is broken.”

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Bill Petrocelli — Bio

Bill is the co-owner with his wife, Elaine, of the nationally known-bookstore Book Passage. Book Passage has three bookstores in California in Corte Madera, Sausalito, and at the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

Bill attended Oakland Public Schools and is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the U.C. Law School. In addition to several years in private practice, he served as a California Deputy Attorney General and as the head of a poverty law office in Oakland, California.

Bill served on the Board of the American Booksellers Association and as attorney for the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, in which he successfully pursued a major price-discrimination suit against publishers. Recently, he was the plaintiff in a First Amendment case challenging a California law that threatened to interfere with the distribution of autographed books. The law was subsequently modified by the California Legislature.

He is a frequent advocate on women’s issues and on the problems of local businesses.

He is the author of four books.

  • Low Profile: How to Avoid the Privacy Invaders was published by McGraw Hill in 1980 and was one of the first books that talked about abuses of data collection by government and businesses and about the future implications of computerized record-keeping
  • Sexual Harassment on the Job: What it is and How to Stop it was co-authored by Barbara Kate Repa and published by Nolo Press in 1992. It was the first book published on the subject of stopping workplace harassment and sexual violence.
  • The Circle of Thirteen is a novel that was published in 2013 by Turner Publishing. The theme of the novel is the coming empowerment of women. Novelist Lisa See called it “a true celebration of women in the face of great odds.”
  • Through the Bookstore Window is a novel published in March 2018 by Rare Bird Books. Foreword Magazine calls it “an unusual, rewarding take on the nature of memory: how it haunts and heals, how single moments set the future in motion, and how it binds survivors together in ways they seldom expect.”

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