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2015 Bookseller Resource Guide
Special Report

Go West, Book Lover

Near the Mission District, there’s a great opportunity for a lunch break along Valencia Street (the burrito is to San Francisco what the cheesesteak is to Philadelphia) and a chance to pour over purchases. While travel companions hit up the local fashion boutiques, shops, and cafes, check out the neighborhood’s several used bookstores, most notably Adobe Books. With its narrow walkways, teeming shelves, eccentric employees, book scouts, and patrons, this is a classic stop on any SF book circuit. Rejoin your group at Dave Eggers’ 826 Valencia, promoting literacy and creative writing for kids aged 6-18 through the sale of McSweeney’s editions and pirate supplies. The shop feels like a smuggler’s cove, with low-slung ropes and treasure chests. There are also T-shirts, city-related replica prints and broadsides, and local literary maps available for sale.

A day trip to Berkeley from San Francisco, either by car or aboard Bay Area Rapid Transit (known locally as BART), is easy and worthwhile. There are three main stops for the aficionado: The Bancroft Library of the University of California at Berkeley is home to approximately 430 incunabula, along with a digitized collection of over 35,000 papyri fragments from the Tebtunis find in Egypt, the four folios of Shakespeare, a magnificent selection of Aldine editions, and an endless array of literary and historical works from the sixteenth century onward. Plus, there’s always an exhibit to enjoy. Moe’s Books has been a literary and cultural institution since 1959. With four floors and over 100,000 volumes, including a rare book room, this is another must-see (where there are certain to be must-buys). Serendipity Books is a fantastic shop for browsing. Proprietor Peter Howard is a legendary fixture in the Bay Area literary community, and his shop is a modern wonder. Although there is a so-called rare book room near his desk, both the astute and obtuse will find rarities simply littering the space. Another maze of alcoves, bookshelves, and piles of books; the back room actually has movable stacks!

Despite the general doom and gloom over books and printing (which seems about as accurate as the paperless office), book culture is prospering in San Francisco. So go for the books, go for the Bay—just go! But do bring an extra suitcase.

If You Go: Addresses and Phone Numbers

49 Geary St. Art galleries and shops.

See individual shops for locations and hours.

John Windle Antiquarian Books

49 Geary Street, Suite 233

San Francisco, CA 94108

(415) 986-5826

Children’s Book Gallery

49 Geary Street, Suite 233

San Francisco, CA

(415) 986-5826

Brick Row Book Shop

49 Geary Street, Suite 230

San Francisco, CA

(415) 398-0414

Argonaut Book Shop

786 Sutter Street

San Francisco, CA

(415) 474-9067

PBA Galleries

133 Kearny Street

San Francisco, CA

(415) 989-2665

San Francisco Public Library/
The Marjorie G. and Carl W. Stern
Book Arts and Special Collections Center

100 Larkin Street (at Grove Street),
Sixth floor

San Francisco, CA

(415) 557-4560

Grabhorn Institute

1802 Hays Street, The Presidio,

San Francisco, CA

(415) 668-2548

American Bookbinders Museum

1962 Harrison St.

San Francisco, CA

(415) 710-9369

San Francisco Center for the Book

300 De Haro Street

San Francisco, CA

(415) 565-0545

Green Apple Books

506 Clement Street & 6th Ave.

San Francisco, CA

(415) 387-2272


1644 Haight Street

San Francisco, CA

(415) 863-8688

Aardvark Books

227 Church Street

San Francisco, CA

(415) 552-6733

Adobe Books

3166 16th Street (at Albion St)

San Francisco, CA

(415) 864-3936

826 Valencia

826 Valencia between 19th and 20th Streets

San Francisco, CA

(415) 642-5905

The Bancroft Library

University of California Berkeley campus

Berkeley, CA

(510) 642-3781

Moe’s Books

2476 Telegraph Avenue

Berkeley, CA

(510) 849-2087

Serendipity Books

1201 University Avenue

Berkeley, CA

(510) 841-7455

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An auction-house cataloger turned bookseller, Matthew Jones studied both English Literature and the Classics at San Francisco State University. He spends lots of time on his bicycle.