Bookstores in the San Francisco Bay Area (Peninsula and south)

Last change:
26 Aug 2014


South Bay
Central Coast
San Francisco
   North Beach
   Civic Center
   Lower Haight
   Upper Haight
   Mission (and Noe Valley)
   West Portal
North of San Francisco
East Bay
other geographic areas 

[Note 0:  These lists were started thirty years ago, before search engines, 
Yelp, and so on.  Because those are now available, these listings will 
include only places that are noteworthy, or have substantive descriptions, 
or have been visited by me.  Old "minimalist" listings will remain as long 
as the stores are open, but no new "minimalist" entries will be added.]

[Note 1: This list contains stores on the Peninsula.
San Francisco and North Bay listings can be found in the San Francisco
Berkeley, Oakland, and East Bay listings can be found in the Berkeley/Oakland

Los Angeles listings can be found in the Los Angeles area list.  
San Diego and Hawai`i listings can be found in the San Diego area list.  
Sacramento and other California listings (outside of southern California) 
can be found in the Northwestern US list.  ]

[Note 2: I collected these comments from a variety of people.  I personally
have no knowledge of many of these places and take no responsibility if you
buy a book you don't enjoy. :-)   Phone numbers and precise addresses can be
gotten by calling directory assistance for the appropriate city.  Call ahead
for precise hours, as even when I list them they are subject to change.]

[Note 3: If you can add information for any of these, in particular
addresses when they are missing, please send it to me.  *PLEASE SPECIFY CITY

[Note 4: Area codes change so quickly these days that these may be wrong.] 



	Florey's.  Forey's stocks a good supply of books, and 
		Mrs. Florey is very accomodating.

San Mateo:
	Barnes & Nopble (Hillsdale and El Camino, not in the mall).  
	Books Unlimited (22 E 25th Ave, 94063, 650-574-5377).  "Great 
		little used bookstore.  Has excellent selection of 
		fiction (general and literature) and collectibles.  
		Knowledgeable staff."  	Open Mon-Sat 10AM-6PM, 
		Sun 11AM-5PM.  
	Lee's Comics (2222 S El Camino Real, 650-571-1489,  Has a comprehensive 
		selection of new comics, back issues, books, graphic 
		novels, adult, and alternative comics.  "The only full 
		service, fully stocked 	comic store in between San 
		Francisco and Mountain View."  Open 7 days 10AM-9PM.
	Otter Books (86 E Third Ave, 94401, 650-401-8077 or 888-405-8077).  
		New and used mystery, crime and detective fiction.  
		[Used to be "M" Is for Mystery.]  Open Mon-Sat 
		[unknown], Sun 10AM-6PM.  [05/12]

	Full Circle Books (1538 El Camino Real, 650-508-9546).  A 
		New Age store, with a broad selection of new and used 
		books.  Titles range from psychological to the Occult.
		The store also carries incense, crystals and jewelry.
Redwood City:
	Szwede Slavic Books (1629 Main, Redwood City, 650-780-0966).  
		Good selection of Polish books, among others.  

Half Moon Bay:
	Coastside Books (432 Main, 650-726-5889).  "It has a love of 
		books.  As the local newspaper said: 'The shop carries 
		best-sellers, 	but an individualistic streak 
	Moon News (20-F Stone Pine Rd, 650-726-8610).  Newspapers, 
		magazines, and books.  
	Ocean Books (416 Main,  
		Used.  "A very literate selection, and the store has 
		oriental rugs, hardwood floors, a wood stove ... it's 
		quite cozy."

South Bay:

Menlo Park:
	Feldman's Books (1170 El Camino Real, 94025, 650-326-5300).  
		Used books.  One reader writes, "This is definitely my 
		favourite bookstore in the area.  good sections on 
		mathematics, foreign language learning, and dance.  
		Film, photography, art, music, pop science, and history 
		aren't too shabby either.  Love this place."  Open 
		Mon-Sat 11AM-6PM, Sun 12N-5PM.  [08/11]
	Kepler's (1010 El Camino Real, 650-324-4321,
		"One of the two stores in the Bay area I hold up as the
		definition of the term 'bookstore.'"  Special emphasis on
		alternative and progressive titles.  Has regular in-person
		programs, often featuring important authors."  Sun-Thu 
		9AM-11PM, Fri-Sat 9AM-12M.

Palo Alto:
	Bell's (536 Emerson, 650-323-7822,  
		Used.  In terms of selection good (300,000 volumes).  
		Great for book collectors.  "Unfortunately much of their 
		stock is out of reach on high shelves, which can be 
		frustrating.  They also shelve their fiction books in three 
		layers, so you have to create little temporary piles on the 
		floor as you mine for books.  Great place!"  [They will help 
		you retrieve books from the upper reaches if you ask.]  Open 
		Mon-Thu 9:30AM-5:30PM, Fri 9:30AM-9PM, 
		Sat 9:30AM-5PM.  [05/12]
	Books Inc. (157 Stanford Shopping Center, 94304, 650-321-0600,  New books.  Open 
		7 days.  [08/11]
	Know Knew Books (415 California Ave, 94306, 650-326-9355,  Reports of its 
		demise were grossly inaccurate.  After I reported 
		its going-out-of-business sale, something 
		reprieved it, and it continues in its same 
		location with its amazing SF slecetion (and good 
		selections in other categories as well.  Open 
		Mon-Sat 10AM-10PM, Sun 12N-8PM.  [08/12]
	Stanford University Bookstore (on the Stanford Campus,
		415-329-1217).  The largest bookstore in the Bay Area.  It's
		the most likely place to find a new book.  Their inventory
		is available on the network for people who have the right
		accounts.  There's also a branch at 135 University Avenue
		(415-327-3680) in Palo Alto which specializes in technical
		books and is open Mon-Fri 9:30AM-7PM, Sat 10AM-6PM.
		One person writes, "I would have to say that the Stanford
		on-campus bookstore is the best scientific/technical
		bookstore, especially for CS and math, that I now know of."  

Mountain View:
	BookBuyers Used Books and Media (317 Castro, 94041, 
		650-968-7323,  A good 
		general used book store with 400,000 titles.  With the 
		closing of Know Knew Books in Palo Alto, this now has 
		the best used SF selection on the Peninsula.  Also CDs, 
		records, videos, calendars, and software.  Open Sun-Thu 
		10AM-11PM, Fri-Sat 10AM-12M; buys Fri-Sat 10AM-5PM.  
		Open 363 days a year; closed Christmas and 
		Thanksgiving.  [09/08]
	Book Barterers Exchange (2025 El Camino, 94040, 650-650-3747).  Used 
		books, half price.
	Books Inc. (301 Castro Street, 800-742-0402, 650-961-8500).  Used to 
		be Printers Inc.  Supposedly pretty much the same now.  Open 
		Mon-Thu 8AM-11PM, Fri 8AM-12M, Sat 9AM-12M, Sun 9AM-11PM
		(assuming the hours haven't changed).
	East West Books (324 Castro, 650-988-9800, 800-909-6161,  "A complete New Age book shop,
		with sections on herbalism, metaphysics, aromatherapy,
		shamanism, inner healing....  Also cards, incense, crystals,
		gongs, and other Aquarian doodads.  This is the sort of
		thing that people who like this sort of thing will like."
		(Moved from their Menlo Park location.)  Mon-Thu,
		Sat 10AM-9PM; Fri 10AM-5:30PM; Sun 1PM-5:30PM.	
	Lee's Comics (1020 N Rengstorf Ave, Suite F, 94040, 650-965-1800,  Has a wide selection of new and 
		back-issue comics, books, graphic novels, alternative, and 
		adultcomics.  Lee's Comics was chosen "Best Selection Of 
		AdultComics", and "Best Comic Book Store," by Metro 
		Newspaper.  Open 7 days 10AM-9PM.  
	San Antonio Hobby Shop (San Antonio Shopping Center, 650-941-1278).
		Amazing selection of new books on aircraft, trains and ships
		(warships, mostly).  They have many hard-to-find and
		imported titles.  One person claimed, "This store
		have been bought out by the same people who own the gospel
		bookstore in the Mall.  It used to be a good general gaming
		bookstore; all of the non-military gaming was purged after
		the buyout," but another pointed out "San Antonio Hobby has
		been owned by the same couple for *at least* 25 years.  They
		chose to alter their product line.  It happened over *10
		years* ago, when they dropped the Dungeons and Dragons
		stuff.  And yes, they *do* own the gospel bookstore nearby.
		So what?"  Closed Sunday; short hours the rest of the week.

	A Wrinkle in Time (1012 Morse Ave. #15, 94089, 408-541-0358,  SF and fantasy.  Open
		Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri 11:30AM-5:30PM; Wed 11:30AM-9PM.

	Barnes & Noble (Hamilton and Bascom).  Not as big as their
		superstore in Santa Clara but definitely the best thing open
		for miles, especially at night.  Next to a Starbucks if you
		need espresso with your reading.
	Poor Pat's (1800 South Bascom Ave, 408-374-4900).  Used.
	Recycle Books (275 E Campbell, 408-370-3514,  Used.  Branch of the 
		San Jose store.  [08/11]

San Jose:
	Barnes & Noble (Steven's Creek and San Tomas Expressways).
		Fourth-largest bookstore in the United States.  "64,000
		square feet of pure sensory overload."  "About the best
		selection of new books around these parts, a cafe, very
		helpful staff, but a bit of a chain-store feel.  They claim
		to be the fourth largest bookstore in the country, but based
		on what?"  "This bookstore is a meat market on Friday and
		Saturday nights.  Avoid it at those times.  Other times,
		it's a decent bookstore with nice discounts, but the staff
		is only marginally helpful."  Has a couple of other 
		branches as well.
	Hicklebee's (1378 Lincoln, 95125, 408-292-8880, 888-898-0093,  A very good childrens' 
	Kinokuniya (685 Saratoga Ave, 95129, 408-252-1300).  Japanese 
		books and books in English about things Japanese.  
	Recycle Books (1066 The Alameda, 95126, 408-286-6275,  They have a pretty 
		decent general selection.  SF books are a strong 
		point, but philosophy books are a weak spot.  "This is 
		a very large used book store.  They have the best Bay 
		Area collection of used SF hardcovers.  Very few 
		collectibles, though."  Has a branch in Campbell.  
		Open Mon-Thu 11AM-9PM, Fri-Sat 11AM-7PM, Sun 12N-7PM; 
		buys Mon-Sat 11AM-5PM.  [08/11]
	? (2194 Lincoln).  Used books.

Central Coast:

Santa Cruz:
	Book Loft (Soquel Drive at Seabright, 408-429-1812).
		Used books only.
	Bookshop Santa Cruz (in the old St. George Hotel on the Pacific
		Avenue, 408-423-0900).  A Santa Cruz tradition.  Very large
		magazine selection and indoor/outdoor cafe.
	Chimney Sweep Books (across from Caffe Pergolesi on Center Street).
		A used bookshop, great for philosophy, religion, some rare
		stuff too, but small.
	Gateways (a block from Logos/Plaza in the old Great Outdoors
		Outlet).  A venerable Santa Cruz institution, with twice the
		space of its old location and a small cafe.  It is primarily
		known for new-age, metaphysics, self-help, etc.
	The Literary Guillotine (Union St, downtown).  Used books.  They
		seem to tend more in the direction of the scholarly than 
		the popular, but they have a pretty interesting 
		selection of things.
	Logos (has re-opened in a new building at its *old* location at
		1117 Pacific Avenue, 408-426-2106).  Two full floors of
		books, used records, and used CDs.  Can be thought of 
		as Santa Cruz's answer to Moe's in Berkeley.  "It is 
		this bibliophile's opinion that Logos has *the* best 
		used book selection (in Santa Cruz, the center of the 
	Plaza Books  (on Pacific Ave. roughly across from the 
		Palomar).  New books only.  "Plaza Books has the best 
		tee-shirts, post-card books, and greeting cards, by 
		far beating out any of the more 'touristy' places."

San Juan Bautista:
	Belinda's Bookaround (402 Third).  Medium-sized selection of
		used paperbacks.



There are also Book Hunter Press's USED BOOK LOVER'S GUIDE TO [various 
regions], seven regional guides to over 7,900 used, out-of-print, and 
antiquarian book dealers in the United States and Canada.  The complete 
database is online and can be searched by location, dealer name, specialty, 
and type of dealer. Access to the database is available on a two tier basis: 
partial access is free, full access is by subscription.The web page also 
includes free access to regional and city maps showing locations with used 
bookstores. For more information or a free catalog, check their web page at

Anecdote from a reader (circa 1995):

"Had an interesting experience last night:  I was having dinner at a
friend's house when he asked me if I had access to internet.  This was
curious, indeed, as he is probably the most neo-Luddite younger person I
know, resistant to computer technology to the point of keeping business
records on scraps of paper beneath found paperweights and doing business
correspondence via penciled letters.

It turns out that the reason for this sudden interest is that someone
came into his store [which shall remain nameless here] in San Francisco,
and made a stunning $50.00 purchase on the basis of some recommended
bookstore list that you produced and posted on rec.arts.books.  A captain
of industry he's not, so fifty big ones made about as big an impression
on him as a major bus wreck ("Don't mention the money," he says of this
message, "it sounds so crass.").  Suddenly, this computer thing had
reality to him.  He produced a scrap of paper with your net address on
it and requested that I thank you.

I just thought you might get as big a giggle out of this as I did."

Of all the messages people have sent me over the years, this one is
still my favorite.

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Evelyn C. Leeper
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