Bookstores in the San Francisco Bay Area (Peninsula and south)
26 Aug 2014
Mission (and Noe Valley)
North of San Francisco
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.
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,
Lee's Comics (2222 S El Camino Real, 650-571-1489,
http://www.lcomics.com). 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.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Used. "A very literate selection, and the store has
oriental rugs, hardwood floors, a wood stove ... it's
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,http://www.keplers.com).
"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.
Bell's (536 Emerson, 650-323-7822, http://www.bellsbooks.com).
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,
http://www.booksinc.net). New books. Open
7 days. [08/11]
Know Knew Books (415 California Ave, 94306, 650-326-9355,
http://www.knowknewbooks.com). 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."
BookBuyers Used Books and Media (317 Castro, 94041,
650-968-7323, http://www.bookbuyers.com). 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
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,
http://www.eastwest.com). "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,
http://www.lcomics.com). 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,
http://www.awit.com/). 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,
http://www.recyclebooks.com). Used. Branch of the
San Jose store. [08/11]
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,
http://www.hicklebees.com. 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,
http://www.recyclebooks.com). 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.
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
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.
Information contained in this FAQ is compiled from many sources. The
compiler accepts no responsibility for the comments contained herein.
The comments are provided "as is" with no warranty, express or implied,
for the information provided within them.
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4) They will agree, in writing, that the collection including the FAQ will
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To support this, this FAQ is Compilation Copyright 2014 by Evelyn C. Leeper
(the FAQ maintainer).
Evelyn C. Leeper
Evelyn C. Leeper (email@example.com)
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