Favorite Bay Area bookstores?

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Favorite Bay Area bookstores?

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ag. 8, 2006, 6:50pm

I don't know that I have a particular "favorite" bookstore. I like:

Walden Pond Books
Dark Carnival
(all in Oakland)

Bird & Beckett
and various other holes in the wall in San Francisco

in Berkeley

I actually like the Barnes & Noble in Jack London Square and the Borders in Emeryville for new books - they have better selections at those stores than at others in those chains.

ag. 11, 2006, 1:45am

It's funny how different branches of the same chain stock different books - I suppose they're responding to local buyers' tastes. I'll have to check out the JLS branch of B&N - I haven't been there in a coon's age!

ag. 11, 2006, 10:42am

argyriou, are you sure Dark Carnival is in Oakland? I thought it was in Berkeley. Also, most of my favorites are on your list already, but I'd have to add The Other Change of Hobbitt.

ag. 12, 2006, 1:42am

They used to be in Berkeley, right next to Lacis on Adeline at Ashby, but several years ago they moved over to Claremont.

Agreed about Other Change of Hobbit - I was in there just the other day!

ag. 12, 2006, 3:13am

Green Apple Books, on Clement in S.F.

Cody's new store on Stockton Street in S.F. is very nice.

Book Passage in Corte Madera, Marin, esp. for travel books, and new mysteries.

ag. 12, 2006, 9:46am

According to this, the Claremont site is still in Berkeley:


ag. 12, 2006, 11:51am

Touché - it's so close to the border, I think of that area as Oakland.

Thanks for the website - I didn't know they had one!


8cmdrsuzdal Primer missatge
set. 17, 2006, 8:24pm

Without a doubt Borderlands on Valencia-SF, Fantasy and Horror, new and used, my home away from home.

General bookstores:

Green Apple (a little far away for me)

I kinda like the new Codys except the weird floor, the place smells like rubber instead of books :/

oct. 14, 2006, 8:20pm

Green Apple is right up there for me, because it reminds me (a little) of the best bookstore ever, Powell's in Portland.

But my favorite bookstores in the Bay Area are the Book Bay at Ft. Mason (run by the Friends of the San Francisco Library) and the similar store in Oakland run by the Oakland Library (I don't know the name of that one or the address, although I can get there if I drive around a while). They both have the best prices on used books and the books are generally in very good condition.

oct. 15, 2006, 8:25pm

Thanks for the reminder about Book Bay at Fort Mason. I live near Green Apple, so I don't go to others as often as I might.

oct. 16, 2006, 6:57pm

RE: Book Bay

I just went by there yesterday and they've got a lot of inventory right now. Either they got the pick of the litter from what was left after the Big Book Sale, or they are stocking up to be ready for the move to a bigger space (moving in December to a bigger unit in Ft. Mason). But there was lots of good stuff.

oct. 31, 2006, 1:10am

I am from Half Moon Bay. Has anyone ever been to this bookstore: 80 West Portal, San Francisco, CA 94127
Open 10 AM - 9 PM Every Day.
I haven't been there but have been getting e-mails from them and apparently Edna O'Brien was ther tonight doing a reading.
We have a few nice bookstores in HMB. One of them- Coastside Books on Main Street is going up for sale if anyone wants to buy a bookstore.

oct. 31, 2006, 7:07pm

Yes -- that shop in West Portal is a good one. They have a nice mix of used and new, and the used is a nice mix of clean, new-ish paperbacks and older hardbacks. At least, when I was there about six months ago.

des. 16, 2006, 9:08pm

Well, my favorites are Green Apple and Feldman's Books down in Palo Alto on El Camino (3 blocks away from where Kepler's used to be.) The Feldman's are the guys that used to have Burlingame Book Browse, which was my favorite for many years.

15chocolatedog Primer missatge
Editat: des. 16, 2006, 9:37pm

My fave is the Oakland Friends of the Public Library bookstore, The Bookmark. It's located in downtown Oakland at 721 Washington Street (one street west of Broadway around 7th). There's a farmer's market around there on Friday mornings/lunchtime that's a fun visit too.

Pegasus & Pendragon has a cool periodic warehouse sale in West Berkeley too.

des. 17, 2006, 3:47am

FYI: Green Apple Books, on Clement in S.F., is advertising that they will have a huge post-Christmas sale, starting on Dec. 26 and lasting until the sale inventory is sold. The sale will be two blocks east, at the old Busvan furniture site on Clement (sitting vacant these days), and according to the store will include over 100,000 books.

des. 20, 2006, 4:40pm

I like The Bookmark too! I just discovered it a couple of months ago when I was in Oakland for work. Great, ever-changing selection of used books in very good condition at very reasonable prices. Love it!

des. 21, 2006, 12:42am

Hi there!

Would you folks mind doing me a large favor? I've got a Group called Favorite Bookstores here on LT, and a lot of the material you've got here would be absolutely great as postings in that area.

If you each pick just one bookstore, follow the subject line format I've suggested there, then do a write-up of where it is and why you like it so much, I'll be your friend for a week. If you don't, I'll be your friend for a month.


gen. 14, 2007, 2:08pm

Book Bay, the San Francisco Library's book store at Ft. Mason, moved into its new space recently. It is in the same building -- Building C -- but around the corner from its old spot. It is now huge and they have probably five times as many books. Wonderful!

feb. 9, 2007, 12:22pm

Well my daughter had a school thing in the city near Portal so I finally decided to check out the bookstore I'd been getting e-mails from. Of course I couldn't really remember the name of the place so we just looked for bookstores as we drove on West Portal. Well we saw the West Portal Bookstore and stopped in there, and it was a used bookstore with a fairly good selection. But it did not seem to be the right place so I asked the guy there if there was another West Portal bookstore and he said " if there was another West Portal bookstore I would have to sue them for using the name." He then refered me to the Waldenbooks down the way.
So I assumed I had the wrong name but then we decided to go to the movie theatre there and
noticed a book store across the street called Bookshop West Portal. It was a store for new books and had book signings posted as well as yoga and knitting classes. It was a very pleasant place so I would recommend it. (but I'm wondering if that other guy was trying to send me on a wild goose chase or just hadn't noticed the similarly named book store 1 block up from him).

21jgallwey Primer missatge
feb. 23, 2007, 6:09pm

In Oakland: Diesel, Pendragon, Book Zoo (opened recently at Telegraph & Alcatraz)
In Berkeley: Pegasus, Black Oak, Dark Carnival, Half Price.
In Emeryville: Borders.
In San Francisco: Aardvark, Green Apple, Cody's, Stacey's, City Lights, Dog-Eared, Borderlands, Booksmith.

feb. 23, 2007, 6:11pm

How could I have forgotten, in Berkeley, Moe's, and Shakespeare & Co.

23csoki637 Primer missatge
març 27, 2007, 12:18am

Wow, there are so many bookstores I hadn't heard of. This is exciting.

Pegasus and Half-Price Books were next to each other on Solano Ave. (Albany/Berkeley) some years ago; I think one of them has moved or closed down since then.

Bookstores I go to now: Stacey's in San Francisco, Moe's and Half-Price Books in Berkeley, and Waldenpond in Oakland.

març 27, 2007, 12:20am

And how could I forget: There's always Borders — preferably the one in Emeryville. I don't like Barnes & Noble as much.

abr. 1, 2007, 11:52pm

#23 -
The Half-Price Books on Solano moved over to Shattuck in Berkeley - near another of my faves for science fiction, The Other Change of Hobbit.

juny 19, 2007, 6:54pm

Stacy's on Market is always fun to browse, though the staff can be cranky at times.

The Cody's location on 4th street bums me out. There is nowhere the amount of weird stuff that Telegraph used to have.

Bonaza Street Books in Walnut Creek can be a revelation. It's a strange, funky little store.

juny 19, 2007, 7:33pm

Green Apple definitely.

#5 - That Book Passage store was my little refuge from drudgery while freelancing in Marin.

Going to check out this place (link below) this weekend. Had no idea it even existed!


juny 22, 2007, 12:51am

Cody's in downtown S.F., on Stockton street, has unfortunately closed. I had always thought their chances of making a go of it in such an expensive location were slim. Got a few nice things there while they lasted, though.

des. 14, 2007, 9:58am

I'm another Green Apple devote. I'm also fond of Dog-eared and Bibliohead. The latter doesn't have a selection to match the others, but I find it an remarkably charming destination, nevertheless, a great place to kill some time before dinner in the neighborhood. It doesn't hurt that its right across the street from Blue Bottle coffee, either.

des. 15, 2007, 2:25pm

Last night I drove past a bookstore in Oakland that I am unfamiliar with; has anyone been to Bibliomania? I think it was on Telegraph, in downtown Oakland.

31catz Primer missatge
des. 15, 2007, 2:27pm

I like Barnes and Noble because they have a lot of new books and shipments.

des. 16, 2007, 4:04am

#30 - It's been ages and ages since I've been to Bibliomania - perhaps since they've moved to their current location.

feb. 3, 2008, 4:31pm

Greetings! I joined LT about a month ago and just realized this group existed. My wife and I have both lived in SF for about 20 years. We split our time now between SF and Boonville in Mendocino County.

Anyway, my favorite bookstores are Green Apple (like many), Aardvark, Bird and Becket, Booksmith (on Haight Street), Adobe Books . . . well, that's a short list. I'm also partial to searching through the stacks at Goodwill, Out of the Closet and all the thrift stores up and down Fillmore Street and in the Mission.

maig 26, 2008, 6:00pm

Of course, I love Green Apple. There's a great coffee shop a few blocks away (the name escapes me) with a big open-window-but-otherwise-walled-off section where you can sit and smoke (yes, smoke) with a cup of coffee and watch old vietnamese men playing cards. It's a considerable trip out there from oakland, so I like to make a day of it with a spine-cracking couple hours there.
More locally, I really like Moe's on Telegraph, Half-Price on Shattuck, (both in Berkeley), and Blue Rectangle in Alameda (they've got used records, too).

maig 28, 2008, 2:39pm

#34> Allyson, I believe you're thinking of the Blue Danube, which I agree is a great place!

I also like Half Price and Moe's. I'll have to check out Blue Rectangle. I don't get to Alamada enough. There are some great old antique/thrift stores with stacks of old books in the back. I've made some great finds in some of those stores.

maig 28, 2008, 5:05pm

#35> Yeah, Blue Rectangle is on Park Ave. right across the street from Books Inc. (I think it's called... I've never gone in, it reeked of Cover Price Books, and I'm a girl with a mission And a budget). Antique stores around there are pretty cool, but fairly expensive... one in particular (name escapes me... aren't I helpful?) has a sizeable room of books in the back, but mostly non-fiction, of which I'm rarely a consumer.

maig 28, 2008, 8:53pm


Since you're on a budget, try the thrift shops in the Mission District the next time you're in San Francisco. My favorite is Community Thrift; they've got an large selection of used books.

maig 31, 2008, 11:44am

What a wonderful thread this is! I thought I knew all the bookstores in the bay area - but clearly I am wrong!

juny 1, 2008, 5:31am

I live north of San Francisco, so I don't know the bookstores in and around SF very well, but there was or maybe still is a bookstore called A Clean Well Lighted Place for Books...I just love that name since it's one of my favorite Hemingway short stories.

juny 2, 2008, 12:56am

#39 - it unfortunately went out of business :( they had great author visits there. saw a.s. byatt there one time.

juny 4, 2008, 11:47am

I like Kevin Patrick Books in Alameda (forgot to include it on my initial list), though it's for browsing - you'll never find something you're specifically looking for there. It's one of those Dusty, Poorly-Lit Places for Books. There are precarious shelves up to the ceiling, stacks on the floor impeding access, and stacks in front of stacks in the windows. There are some real finds there, though.

Editat: juny 12, 2008, 4:18pm

I heard A Clean Well-Lighted Place was taken over by Books Inc., and that the new store there is lovely. But haven't yet gotten to it myself.

I have been to the Palo Alto Books Inc. - relocated from the Stanford Mall to Town & Country shopping center - and it really is lovely. Nice staff too.

Between that and Kepler's, we're covered up with great stores in my neighborhood.

juny 12, 2008, 5:11pm

I don't think its been mentioned yet, but I love Spectator Books on Piedmont Ave in Oakland. It is in my neighborhood and mostly used, but its always fun to take a stroll up Piedmont and browse for a bit. Also off of Piedmont Ave is a great magazine shop called Issues thats definitely worth checking out.

juny 18, 2008, 1:46pm

@43 I lived just west of Piedmont for nine years, and I liked Spectator Books well enough, but I was more of a Walden Pond guy my self.

juny 18, 2008, 6:21pm

Anyone been in Cody's new location on Shattuck? I live in Berkeley, but funny enough, I don't spend a whole lot of time hanging on Shattuck.

I was so disappointed with the 4th store, I am hoping they've got a bit of the old mojo back at the new location.

Editat: juny 18, 2008, 7:19pm

Sorry to say, in the new location they have not recovered any ground. The new store is only about a third the size of the 4th St. store, and the managers have made the decision to put more limits on the subject areas they stock, since the space is smaller. I didn't find anything that tempted me to get out my wallet on my visit a couple of months ago. :-(

When they moved, there were doubts expressed about how long they would survive in the new location, and after visiting, I rather agree with the doubters.

juny 21, 2008, 9:24pm

Cody's is done!!! It closed up forever yesterday, Friday the 20th. That really, really sucks.

Editat: juny 22, 2008, 8:48pm

44 I do really like Walden Pond, but as I'm on foot (or bus, depending) I find myself more drawn towards making the trek to Piedmont Ave. Heading in that direction I can also make stops at Issues and Dr. Comics and Mr. Games... even a library branch if I want -- they aren't exactly bookstores, but what resources for the printed word! Also, I have found that Spectator isn't always ideal for fiction, but I have had great success with their art and essays sections... something that isn't always easy to find.

Not to discount Walden Pond -- it is a great place to stop after loading myself with produce at the Saturday farmers market.

juny 24, 2008, 5:58pm

Yeah, Piedmont Avenue has a lot to offer with regard to printed matter, much more than the Grand/Lakeshore area. Ever since Endgame moved to downtown, I really haven't had any reason to go down by Walden Pond. More, all of my experiences at WP have been negative. The staff members are rude, their pricing is out of sync with reality, and they offer bupkis when you try to sell to them. And the vibe is just plain old wrong. Give me Spectator any day of the week over WP.

juny 29, 2008, 4:47pm

>That really, really sucks.

Really. Sucks.

set. 1, 2008, 2:58pm

I've just finished touring for The Wednesday Sisters - so many wonderful bay area book stores! Who knew? Two of my favorites that I had never been to before:

A Great Good Place for Books - Kathy (the owner - wonderful story about that, too) and the staff here knows books - good books! - SO well

Clayton Books - Joel and Christy, the owners, are lovely, and again: they know good books. Also, they threw a lovely dessert and tea reading that was one of my most fun events!

gen. 31, 2009, 1:27pm

Having had to confront 58,000 choices, after googling "San Francisco Bookstores", I'm grateful to have discovered this site and your many wonderful recommendations. Being somewhat unfamiliar with the city, I remain a bit uncertain. Do popular bookstores, such as Green Apple, sell new books, only? Except for special books, I much prefer spending my limited funds on used books.

I'll be in San Francisco with friends, mid-April, and I believe that we'll be staying somewhere on Market, within two block of Davies Hall and the Civic Center. Alas, I'll be completely dependent upon public transportation and my own two legs to get around. Any recommendations?

I have an ancient copy of "A Booklover's Guide to San Francisco", but it's over 30 years old, at a time when I loved going to the Antiquarian bookstores of Post Street. I presume most of them, such as John Howell Books, have long since disappeared.


gen. 31, 2009, 1:41pm

Hi, Rood, welcome aboard.

The Green Apple is primarily a used book store, so you'll love it. It's huge.

And yes, unfortunately John Howell Books is gone.

You might try this resource: it's the store finder for Indie Bound, an independent bookseller group.

gen. 31, 2009, 1:43pm

Quite near to Civic Center is a pretty decent new book store called "Books, Inc.".

gen. 31, 2009, 9:35pm

Book Bay at Ft. Mason is all used books at really, really good prices -- it's the library book store, but the books are donated, not ex-library copies. In very nice condition. And the setting is spectacular. Shop for books, then stroll through the Marina Green to Crissy Field -- that's a great way to spend some SF time!

Editat: gen. 31, 2009, 9:54pm

You'll be able to get around in San Francisco just fine on public transportation, and walking.

The city bus system -- "Muni" -- sells visitor passes that give unlimited rides, for 1, 3, or 7 days periods. Info here:

The regular fare is $1.50 per ride ($5.00 on cable cars, which are included in the passes), or $0.50 per ride for seniors and disabled.

feb. 1, 2009, 2:43pm

Thanks, guys. All good, solid information. Now the only difficulty will be getting my hoard back to Phoenix.

feb. 1, 2009, 2:50pm


març 21, 2009, 2:21pm

If anyone is interested in a, well, idiosyncratic history of the various booksellers on Telegraph Avenue (Moe's, Cody's, Shakespeare and Co., Black Oaks, etc.), definately keep your eye peeled for the issue of the zine Cometbus entitled The Loneliness of the Electric Menorah.

If you're unfamiliar with Cometbus, it's a well written little 'zine put out by guy named Aaron Cometbus, a Berkeley-based writer who also was/is a drummer in various East Bay punk bands.

For this issue he tracks down various denizens of the Berkeley bookseller scene and he really bring the story of the Avenue to life, even working in Blondie's, Rasputin and the Reprint Mint.

Anyway, I ended up buying it online because I just don't make it out to Telegraph that often.

You can find it here for the low, low price of three bucks:


I'm not in anyway affliated with Cometbus or the retailer above. This little zine simply blew my mind and I think some of you might really enjoy it.

abr. 3, 2009, 3:05am

I just discovered Wilmot Books, at Central & 5th in Alameda, now that I've started riding my bike around town more. I may need to return by car soon - there are a number of books I want, and getting them home on the bike may not be so easy.

Does anyone know what happened to Gray Wolf Books which used to be around 148th and E14th in San Leandro/San Lorenzo?

feb. 28, 2010, 6:57pm

That's a good call. I had forgotten about Powell's in Portland - it *is* like Green Apple.
(and let's hear it for Recycle Books, in San Jose)

maig 28, 2010, 10:40pm

I just found a couple of treasures at Shakespeare & Co. on Telegraph in Berkeley. And I left a few others on the shelf that I should have bought. They have a pretty good selection for a smaller store and unique gems for fairly reasonable prices. It is a used and somewhat (rare) book store.

maig 28, 2010, 11:28pm

I just paid my first visit to Wonderland, on Fairmount in El Cerrito; I found out about it by using the LT Local iPhone app - great place! It's not very big, but crammed with all sorts of interesting books. The hours are rather limited, which is probably why I never went in there before.

maig 29, 2010, 12:50pm

Not really the SF Bay Area, but for anyone in Mendocino County (or traveling through) we have a just-opened new and used bookstore in Boonville on Route 128 called Laughing Dog Books, for now open Friday through Monday.

juny 14, 2010, 6:15pm

#63 -- I just made first trip to Wonderland. The name suits it.

juny 15, 2010, 12:01pm

>65 gregtmills:
Glad you liked it! I plan to get back there soon; they had a couple of books I want that I didn't get the first time, and should have.

jul. 10, 2010, 10:14am

>Not really the SF Bay Area, but for anyone in Mendocino County (or traveling through) we have a just-opened new and used bookstore in Boonville on Route 128 called Laughing Dog Books, for now open Friday through Monday

How exciting, rocketjk! Congratulations!

jul. 10, 2010, 11:14am

#67> Not only is it a fine bookstore, I was their very first customer: my signed dollar bill is framed and hanging on the wall!

Editat: oct. 14, 2010, 7:57pm

Feldman's is actually in Menlo Park on El Camino Real. One of my favorite shops.
Ooh, and another hurrah for Recycle Books.

gen. 26, 2011, 12:28am

http://www.dogearedbooks.com/ without a question. The three stores are both the same and very different. NoeValley on the J-church street car line. Mission on Valencia street. Cortland in bernal heights. With a small amount of walking, you can hit all three stores in the afternoon with the help of Muni (busses).

They sell used books, some new books but they are all on the same shelves (it's a different price sticker).
On top of this, they clear weekly their stock and dump about half a cubic yard of FREE BOOKS into a curbside "soap box" - where you are encouraged to leave your read book and pick another (free) book.

staff is very knowledgeable and courteous - you might need them anyway, the stock is too large/varied.

feb. 10, 2011, 10:27am

Anyone remember Holmes in the city and Oak.?
How about Roskie and Wallace in Hayward? The darkest, dustiest book store I've ever been in!
They used to hand out flashlights! A coal-miners hat with a light would have been better! ;-)

feb. 10, 2011, 1:26pm

I was very sad when I found out Holmes had closed. What a loss.

abr. 3, 2011, 12:13am

just cleaned both Borders downtown SF. over $600 - I'm so bad. But there were some rare books that are so expensive and that are never on sale... I couldn't resist. (not for my own library tho)
LAST DAY IS NEXT SATURDAY - then there are closed forever.

Muni/BART stop Powell.
Borders 1 = north-west corner of Union square.
Borders 2 = 4th floor of bloomingdale/Westfield.

Editat: abr. 3, 2011, 12:27am

I just got back from Borders in Pleasant Hill, did the one in San Rafael last Thursday, and Emeryville the day before that. I plan to get to Alameda this week.

jul. 18, 2011, 7:12pm

What's the deal on the Borders???
what is STILL open and anybody has info on where/when to hit the stores?

jul. 18, 2011, 7:20pm

I just heard that five remaining Bay Area stores will be closing soon.

The ones the website says are still open are

San Francisco - Stonestown
Palo Alto
Santa Rosa & Santa Rosa Coddington