SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — For avid readers, getting lost in a book has been a necessary escape from the pandemic – or maybe staying inside has helped make reading a habit.
Now that a majority of San Francisco is vaccinated, in-person book browsing is back!
There are plenty of independent book stores where it’s just as fun to get lost in the shelves as it is in the rare books you can find.
The city is home to several unique shops, many that specialize in certain types of books – rare and vintage, books in specific languages, and books on niche topics.
Before browsing Amazon or another big-box retailer, check out this list of some of San Francisco’s independent bookstores:
Ferry Building, One, #42, San Francisco, CA 94111
Book Passage‘s location inside the Ferry Building makes it optimal to grab a good read and sit on a bench with a view of the bay. Or, stick around inside for their in-person events as they make a comeback post-vaccination.
3957 24th St.
If you never know where to start when finding a new read, Folio has several staff picks and other curated lists to highlight beyond the bestsellers, which of course also line its shelves in Noe Valley.
Eastwind Books & Arts
1435 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133
If you can read Chinese or trying to learn, step inside Eastwind Books & Arts – they specialize in Chinese literature, history and DVDs.
Dog Eared Books Castro
489 Castro St. | 900 Valencia St. | 3036 24th Street
There are a couple other locations for Dog Eared Books in the city, but their Castro spot is a trove of LGBTQ+ history books, memoirs on notable LGBTQ+ figures in history, and just general good reads by authors who identify as non-hetero.
City Lights Booksellers & Publishers
261 Columbus Ave
Chances are, City Lights is already on your radar. It’s a San Francisco historical treasure and home to the beatniks legacy.
866 Valencia St
Are you interested in the supernatural, otherworldly and horrific? Borderlands is a world to many more worlds, dedicated to all the weird and unusual stories in sci-fi, fantasy, mystery and horror genres.
William Stout Architectural Books
804 Montgomery St
It’s only normal that a city with eye-catching architecture has a bookstore dedicated to it, too. William Stout Architectural Books is for those with an eye for design, or who are just plain interested in buildings and art.
Brick Row Book Shop
49 Geary St #230
Rarities line the rows of shelves in Brick Row Book Shop.
Bird & Beckett Books & Records
653 Chenery St
Live music and poetry readings are an extra treat to the book browsing experience at Bird & Beckett. Plan your visit by checking their events calendar.
Alexander Book Company
50 2nd St
This downtown stop has a whole three levels of books, with the usual new releases while highlighting indie books, too.
Omnivore Books on Food
3885 Cesar Chavez
The book store‘s name gives away its own specialty: Cookbooks! Great for a collector or a chef who wants to try something new. In-store author events resume in August.
Russian Hill Bookstore
2162 Polk St
The Russian Hill Bookstore is shelved with secondhand books ready for a new reader. You can try selling your beloved books here as well.
Bound Together Bookstore
1369 Haight St
This collective-run bookstore describes itself as Anarchist and has a fitting collection of radical literature.
2251 Chestnut St | 601 Van Ness | 3515 California St
You have three storefronts to select from to browse from Books Inc., whose history can be traced all the way back to 1851.
814 Post St
This fun shop is full of rare and vintage books, including genres like “bizarre non-fiction”, “counterculture”, “hippies and drugs” and more. Appointment only.
1400 18th St
This quaint Portero Hill shop is surrounded by homes and is dog-friendly for anyone happening by while walking their best friend.
Black Bird Bookstore
4033 Judah St
This bright and cozy bookstore is perfectly located for you to grab a beach read on your way to the ocean.
Argonaut Book Shop
786 Sutter St
Hey history buffs! Argonaut could be your go-to for books on the American West and of course, California. The book shop also carries books from the 15th to the 19th centuries.
1748 Buchanan St
Look beyond city limits and the U.S. borders with a curated selection at Forest Books that includes rare and used books from around the world.
Japan Center- Kinokuniya Building, 1581 Webster St
Kinokuniya is a must for manga fans and anyone who can read (or wants to learn to read) in Japanese. The two level store has something for anyone who appreciates Japanese culture.
Green Apple Books
506 Clement St | 1231 9th Ave | 2195 Fillmore St
Founded in 1967, the Clement St store has continually expanded to selling more than just books and has three storefronts (including newly-acquired Browser Books). You can find new and used reads here.
BookShop West Portal
80 W Portal Ave
This local shop has been a community staple for nearly two decades. Staff are happy to recommend something new or something educational.