10 Outstanding Bookstores To Browse In San Francisco

Jamie Ferrell Jamie Ferrell

10 Outstanding Bookstores To Browse In San Francisco

Many a San Franciscan loves to curl up with a good book and sip on a cup o’ joe from one of SF’s legendary coffee shops. Not sure where to find your next good read? These famous bookstores around the city, listed in no particular order, are musts for any local bookworm. Be sure to scroll to the bottom for an interactive map to point you in the right direction!

1. Green Apple Books

Green Apple Books was founded in 1967 by 25-year-old Richard Savoy after a tour in the Army. It’s grown exponentially since then, stocking a diverse collection of both classic and modern books and evolving its collection to include music. Get lost amongst the winding shelves and refer to handmade signs for book recommendations and more.


  • Green Apple Books and Music: 506 Clement St and 520 Clement Street
  • Green Apple Books on the Park: 1231 9th Ave
  • Browser Books: 2195 Fillmore Street

2. Kinokuniya

This bookstore within the Japan Center Mall in Japantown stocks primarily Japanese and Japan-related books and items. It’s especially notable for its enormous Anime/Manga section on the 1st floor with both Japanese and English options. The SF location is the first Kinokuniya Bookstore to open in the US, and it’s been around snice 1969!

Location: Japan Center, 1581 Webster Street

3. City Lights

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, famed SF poet and painter, founded City Lights Bookstore in 1955. He was a publisher of many poets through the City Lights Pocket Poets Series, including Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Carlos Williams, Julio Cortázar, and more. The store served as a famous gathering place for many Beat poets and continues to be a San Francisco legend! Find a wide range of books from both major publishers and smaller specialty ones, about topics including poetry, translation, fiction, politics, history, music, and much more.

Location: 261 Columbus Ave

4. The Booksmith

This popular bookstore helmed by Christin Evans has been an SF staple in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood since 2007. They stock an excellent selection of reads including new releases and classics, and Evans works to reimagine the role of independent bookstores in their communities with her involvement in local organizations.

Location: 1727 Haight St

5. Dog Eared Books

This SF institution has been around since 1992. They specialize in small press and local literature, although they have plenty of general interest content as well. You can also sell books here, as they have a healthy secondhand selection!

Location: 900 Valencia St

6. Black Bird Bookstore

This lovely community bookstore in the Outer Sunset is a bright, luminous space that’s especially notable for its outdoor patio area! Enjoy a book out in the sunshine or come for one of their fun events including book releases, story time for kids, and more.


Location: 4033 Judah St

7. Alley Cat Bookstore & Gallery

This popular Spanish-English bookstore also includes an excellent gallery of local art and a new vinyl collection! The gallery space in the back is perfect for hosting poetry readings, book signings, and more. It’s been a Mission staple since 2011, boasting a large collection of new and used books in both English and Spanish.

Location: 3036 24th St

8. Omnivore Books on Food

They Bay Area’s only culinary bookshop is a must for bookworms who love to cook! Collections include vintage and antiquarian books, magazines, menus, cookbooks, new releases, and collectibles. The vintage collection is particularly fascinating, because you can find cookbooks from generations past in their original condition!

Location: 3885a Cesar Chavez St

9. Borderlands Books

This 23-year-old specialty bookstore offers a wild collection of fantasy, horror, science fiction and mystery! As such, it cultivates a passionate community of readers, serving as a professional and social hub for fans of these genres.

Location: 866 Valencia St

10. Adobe Books

This charming bookstore known as the “living room of the Mission” has been around since 1989. Decades of artists, musicians, and writers have come through the space, and book selection includes titles in English, Spanish, German, French, and Italian. Be sure to check out the gallery in the back room, which features rotating works from local artists.

Location: 3130 24th St


Featured image: Green Apple Books. Photo by @chloejackmanphotos on Instagram

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