Tag: bookstores

A Bookstore Update

San Francisco is overflowing with independent bookstore. Some selling new books, some solely graphic novels, others travel books, anarchist books, others selling second hand. On my wandering I have come across some real gems, so I thought I would update you all.

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So far, I can recommend:

City Lights Bookstore. Bookstore and publishing house that is home to the beat generation and still fostering writers and readers who may not fit the status quo. Wandering through this store is so overwhelming and awesome, I don’t even know where to begin.

Located in my new favourite area of San Francisco, Bibliohead is a well selected second hand bookstore. You don’t have to fight your way through hundreds of copies of Fifty Shades of Grey to get to the good stuff, this is like a new bookshop, but cheaper.

Books Inc is an independently owned chain of bookstores, apparently the oldest on the West Coast. I went to the Van Ness Street store and was impressed by the range of books and loyalty card system. Free books! They seem to organise a whole heap of book clubs, so may have to check one out.

Dog Eared Books is another well thought out second hand bookstore with so much to choose from. Interestingly, second hand books only seem to be a few dollars cheaper than new books. I guess when a new book is only $15, and rent is so expensive here, prices can only drop so low.

And of course, The Booksmith, my first and favourite bookstore visited in this city. I said some stuff about it here.


Lucky books are so cheap here as I have been consuming them at an alarming rate. The last two weeks I have read No and Me- Delphine de Vigan, Capital – John Lanchaster, The Dinner– Herman Koch and The Accidental- Ali Smith. Everything I have been reading lately has been so good, I am nervous that each new one I start wont live up to the last! So far, so good, but I am very open to any suggestions- comment away.


Local Bookshop Found!

I have had a lot of time to read since I have been in this city. In between apartment hunting I have perched in cool looking cafes with a coffee and a book hoping someone will come and befriend me. No luck just yet, but I am ever the optimist. At least I have devoured some good ones this week- Flesh and Blood by Michael Cunningham was an epic tale spanning three generations of American immigrants. Not quite as good as Middlesex, but a captivating and tragic tale. Plus I have read Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel, A Pale View of the Hills and the very creepy The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

So it is with great excitement that I have found my new favourite bookshop. The Booksmith on Haight Street immediately wooed me with their range of books and beautiful space. They have write ups on favourite books so you have all the people who work there’s opinion on what to read. Someone called Amy liked a whole lot of books that I also like, so I have bought Captial on her recommendation.


Bookshops are so important in any community, whether they sell a selection of dog eared second hand books, or beautiful new waiting to be discovered books. People thought that with the rise of bookshops like Borders, smaller independents would suffer. Then with the ease and discounted price offered by the Book Depository and Amazon, then kindles, we wondered- how could a small local store ever compete when they have to charge so much more and people have to leave their homes to look and buy? Perhaps it is for that very reason independent bookstores are doing better than ever. People want to feel like they belong in a community, buy their fruit and vegetables from the local farmer’s market. They don’t want to be anonymous in a huge mall. There is something nice about chatting with the person who makes your coffee in the morning, something even nicer about someone being able to recommend a book they know you will love.

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I have some amazing talented friends who are starting up their own thing and being their own boss. Anna has become a freelance photographer. Within a year she is turning away bookings because she is in such high demand. Olivia has started designing beautiful rugs and is now being stocked in small local shops in Sydney, Wellington and Auckland. Millie sells flowers out of a converted truck at Cox’s Bay and sells out all the time. These incredible people are a sure sign that we like supporting local. Why should bookshops be any different? My friend Kimberley and I have a long standing dream to open up our own bookstore one day selling beautiful books, coffee and community. It may be a cliche, but I think we can make it happen.