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.
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
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 published 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
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
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
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: 4541 Irving St
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
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
9. 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
10. Book Passage
Book Passage is an iconic spot in the Ferry Building that’s been around for 40 years. They host plenty of events, classes, conferences and more all year round, and their location in the Ferry Building makes for a perfect outing if you want to stop for a bite to eat.
Location: 1 Ferry Building