The Best Bookstores in San Francisco | San Francisco Travel
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The Best Bookstores in San Francisco

Discover the best bookstores in San Francisco, from quaint independents to literary havens. Uncover your next great read in this vibrant city.

San Francisco has been the home of literary greats like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg, and many others. You'll find some of the most niche bookstores in the country right here in San Francisco. We've gathered a list of bookstores by neighborhood to get your literary juices pumping. Take a look at our list of the best bookstores in the San Francisco metro area. 

Fabulosa Books

489 Castro St.

Located in the Castro, this is the perfect place to find new or used books by local writers, independent publishers, and best-selling authors. One thing to know about Fabulosa Books is that it has one of the largest selections of LGBT+ books in the city, and also hosts a monthly book club geared toward this genre. Of course, you can look forward to attending book release parties, readings, and other events for writers and readers, as well.

Books, Inc.

601 Van Ness Ave.

Books, Inc. has several locations throughout the Bay Area, but the one at the edge of the Fillmore District is among the most popular. Not only is it spacious enough to house thousands of paperbacks and hardcovers, but it also hosts several classes for writers. There’s also a seminar series with tips on getting published. And of course, Books, Inc. has multiple book clubs to choose. 

Kinokuniya Book Store

1581 Webster St. #218

If you enjoy manga, graphic novels, or just books in general—whether in English or Japanese—come to Kinokuniya in Japantown. This bookstore not only sells reading material of all kinds, but also DVDs, stationery, and fun gifts from Japan. If you hang around this San Francisco bookstore long enough, you'll see firsthand the kinds of events it hosts, from author signings to book release parties.

The Booksmith

1727 Haight St.

Located just minutes from Golden Gate Park, and in the heart of the Haight, The Booksmith boasts a variety of paperbacks, hardcovers, magazines, and more. The owners of this bookstore run an author event program called Berkeley Arts & Letters, so you can be sure there are impressive events here and at the nearby event center, The Bindery. You can even join a group that revolves around your favorite book or TV series, as there are fan groups that regularly meet here to discuss and celebrate the stories they love most.

Borderlands Books

Located in the Mission District, Borderlands Books is known for its wide selection of science fiction, mystery, horror, and fantasy books. Borderlands is a cool hangout for writers, reviewers, publishers, and of course, readers like you. It is known for hosting lots of great events, from author readings and signings to magazine release parties and even ghost story readings. 

Adobe Books

3130 24th St.

If you're looking for a cozy bookshop with a huge selection of books—plus an inspirational art gallery—Adobe Books in the Mission is it. This store is known for carrying rare books, showcasing local artists' work on the walls, and hosting hundreds of events that allow creators of all kinds to get together and network. Don't miss the various author readings, book signings, book club meetings, and live music nights.

City Lights

261 Columbus Ave.

City Lights is among the oldest and most famous bookstores in San Francisco. Prepare to be delighted by three floors packed full of mainstream and independent books, artwork, and poetry. The store, located in North Beach, hosts free events for writers and readers. Once you’re done checking out this bookstore, be sure to stop by the Beat Museum a block away to learn more about the authors who first frequented City Lights. 

Chronicle Books

680 2nd St.

Chronicle Books has its headquarters in a charming warehouse in SoMa. This is where all the publishing magic happens. It features four floors of space for marketing, contracts, and other behind-the-scenes business operations. Plus, there's a big meeting space for events like book-themed trivia nights, bake sales for good causes, and blowout book sales. There's still room for a storefront filled with a range of books, journals, calendars, cards, and more.

Green Apple Books

506 Clement St 

Green Apple Books in the Richmond is home to more than 100,000 used and 60,000 new books that beg to be browsed. The main storefront has two floors of non-fiction, kids’ books, cookbooks, and new releases. While you’re there, check out one of the many book readings where you can hear some insight on how the author penned his or her latest novel. They also have a second store in the Sunset, located on 1231 9th Ave, by Golden Gate Park.

MoAD Store

685 Mission St.

Located inside the Museum of the African Diaspora, the MoAD store is the only Black-owned bookstore in San Francisco. Located in the Yerba Buena Arts District, this store curates a selection of authors from the African Diaspora. This selection includes seven genres of books, special exhibit-specific publications, and curated book selections for various public programs. MoAD's Visitor Experience Manager Charlena Wynn has bolstered the museum's bookstore to share more texts that deal with difficult conversations surrounding body, incarceration, race, and immigration, as well as inspiring texts from Black authors that might not be included in other bookstores and libraries. 

Dog Eared Books

900 Valencia St.

Open since 1992, Dog Eared Books has been supplying the Mission with new, used, small-press titles and local literature. The light-filled bookshop with a striking turquoise exterior also displays local art and has a great selection of cards, magazines, and calendars. If you're walking down Valencia Street looking to buy your next novel, Dog Eared Books is the place for you. 

Author Brenda Tucker
Brenda Tucker

Brenda Tucker is the Director of Arts Marketing at San Francisco Travel. She has lived in San Francisco since 1998, after driving cross-country to a home she secured sight unseen. Brenda enjoys swimming out-of-doors year-round, being inspired by the incredible art scene in the City, and living in the best place on earth.