Many people are familiar with doing a bar/pub crawl, but in all my nerdy glory I chose to partake in a bookstore crawl around San Francisco. I was not able to hit all of the local, independent bookstores; therefore, I see another round in my future.
Nestled in Lower Pacific Heights on bustling Fillmore Street, Browser Books has been a leading literary seller since 1976. This classic small room bookstore leaves you feeling like you are in your own library. Tall stacks of fiction will leave you perusing for your favorites or finding something new. Out of the corner of your eye you may spy a title or cover on one of their nicely displayed tables. If you are looking for used books this may not be the spot for you, but you will find recent releases. They also publish books so if you are looking for some local flavor just ask. Hit one of the many restaurants or cafes to refuel before hitting the next stop.
This gem will take you away from the center of the city in the Richmond district. There are two store fronts because it has expanded since its start in 1967 (yes, it is celebrating its 50th anniversary!). Today the store covers 10 times its original 750 square feet! The vibe is that of an old library, full but not overcrowded, and the staff is very helpful. They feature a wide range of used titles, but also have new if you are looking for the latest bestseller. This is one local bookstore that you should not miss.
The Great Overland Book Company
Located in the Inner Sunset neighborhood this is the quintessential old school used bookstore. It is has two levels, but is very quaint. They offer anywhere from literature to old newspapers. If you want to make a visit you had better go sooner rather than later as they will closing shop in a next 8 weeks. I spoke with the owner who said they could find the right kind of buyers (i.e. poets), but they did not have the funds to purchase. This makes me sad to see a independent bookstore have to close up for good. I was glad to have made it here, and browse through their shelves before it is no longer 😦
Next, I headed over to the Mission district, and my first stop was at Borderlands Books. They specialize in mystery, science fiction, and horror. My first impression was how neat and organized. They offer both new and used book selections. After nearly closing last year, they appealed to the community for sponsorship, and they did not disappoint. They raised $30,000 and remain open to offer a unique selection that you cannot find at other book shops. It is wonderful to see the community take pride in local business, and support reading. If you are needing a little pick me up there is a cafe next door!
Some of you may have already heard of this bookstore also in the Mission district of SF. I know when I was researching local bookstores this one was always popping up. They have been supplying new, used, and remaindered books to SF since 1992. It has a unique, cool-funky vibe with abstract art to give it local flavor. They specialize in off-beat, small press, and local literature. You will certainly find great deals here!
You can hop a bus or stroll to the Duboce Triangle to experience this great bookstore with an adorable name. John Hadreas started Aardvark Books in 1978 with the pure vision of a local bookstore. It still offers a wide range from literature to non-fiction at great deals! You may be visited by a orange kitty as your browse or you may spot him curled up on a chair.
Coming back to my beloved neighborhood of Russian Hill it a must to stop at the local bookstore. Russian Hill bookstore, established in 1993, not only offers books but also note cards, children’s toys, and board games. They recently moved locations on Polk to bigger and brighter store next to Bow Wow Meow. The selection is one of the best in the SF area however, I may be partial since it is my local bookstore. I can get lost in their literature stacks to find old or new authors.
There are plenty of other bookstores that I need to visit for the first time or again! Let me know some of your favorites around the country or across the world!