10 Independent Bookstores Where You Can Find the Perfect Gift
San Francisco has a long history with the written word. Famed writers such as Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Jack London, Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, Maya Angelou and Amy Tan all called San Francisco home. Today, you'll find a welcoming community of writers in the Bay Area that support one another through literary events like Litquake. Working hand in hand with writers are bookstores, and San Francisco has a number of fantastic independent book stores. The next time you're thinking of expanding your personal library or find yourself in need of a gift for your wordy, nerdy friends, head to these great book stores in the city.
(*denotes this retailer warmly welcomes American Express)
Alexander Book Store* (50 Second St.)
Locally owned, Alexander Book Store is an independent general bookstore with 50,000 new books spread over three floors, located near Union Square and Moscone Center. www.alexanderbook.com
Borderland Books (866 Valencia St.)
Through sponsorships, this beloved Mission bookstore has managed to keep its doors open. That's a good thing. You can still get lost in the floor-to-ceiling trove of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror titles, new and old. Buy a book and you'll keep the doors open even longer.
Book Passage Inc. (1 Ferry Building)
Located inside the iconic Ferry Building, Book Passage is the perfect place to browse for your next read while taking in a wonderful view of the bay. Book Passage has served the Bay Area for more than 40 years, providing the community with an array of author events, writing and language classes, and highly-respected annual conferences. There are also locations in Marin County's Sausalito and Corte Madera.
Booksmith (1644 Haight St.)
The Booksmith is located in the historic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and dedicated to fostering a community for critical thinking, free thought, creativity and literary excellence. They do this by offering a wide variety of new and backlist titles, which include their specialties: counter-culture, art & music, literary fiction and narrative non-fiction. They also host over 200 events each year, including the nationally touring Shipwreck erotic fanfiction event, monthly Book Swap, community forums and author signings.
Chronicle Books (165 Fourth St.)
Chronicle Books has the distinction of being on this list as both an independent publisher and book store. Once a part of the San Francisco Chronicle, they offer bestselling books, children's books, stationery, gifts and an incredible Instagram feed.
City Lights Book Store (261 Columbus Ave.)
When you enter City Lights Book Store, you enter the birthplace of the Beat movement. Walk the same aisles Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg perused back in the day. Founded in 1953 by poet and publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti, City Lights has an extensive and in-depth selection of poetry, fiction, translations, politics, history, philosophy, music and more many hard-to-find titles.
Dog Eared Books (900 Valencia St.)
Sunlight through the large front windows warms the bookshelves in this easygoing atmosphere. Dog Eared Books offers a range of new, used and small-press titles .
Green Apple Books (1231 Ninth St. and 506 Clement St.)
Green Apple Books is an award-winning bookstore serving San Francisco and beyond since 1967. Located in the vibrant Inner Richmond and Inner Sunset neighborhoods, both locations offer a wide but carefully curated selection of new and used books in all subject areas.
Omnivore Books on Food (3885 Cesar Chavez St.)
Books for foodies, cooks and beginners cover the shelves in this Noe Valley shop. Come here to find inspiration in this specialty culinary bookstore.
William Stout Architectural Books (804 Montgomery St.)
William Stout Architectural Books carries more than 20,000 titles in the fields of architecture, art, urban planning, graphic and industrial design, furniture and interior design, and landscape architecture. For more than 30 years, 20 in the current location, it has been a vital resource for architecture and design books, carrying American and international titles, both in and out of print.