From a landmark store that’s an icon of the Beat Generation to a tiny community shop nestled blocks away from the beach, San Francisco has plenty of bookstores that offer a vast selection of titles, genres and authors. Here are the top eight bookstores not to miss when visiting this famously literary city.
You’ll find only one literary genre at Omnivore Books – food and drink. Located in Noe Valley, the bookstore features new, antique and collectable cookbooks (separated in store by country and region) and titles focused specifically on food. The interior is sophisticated with bright yellow walls, white bookshelves neatly lined with books and featured titles stacked on display tables. Owner Celia Sack leverages Twitter, Facebook and email mailing lists to keep customers up to date on store happenings such as events, cooking demonstrations and author talks. Omnivore Books also offers a personalized cookbook club where members receive a signed copy of a cookbook from featured chefs four times a year.
While you won’t find shelves jam-packed with every title imaginable, the sunny and inviting Black Bird Bookstore carefully curates a diverse set of titles, including many by women of color, children’s books, and contemporary fiction and non-fiction. A short walk from the beach, the bookstore’s interior is airy and bright, with both a reading area near the back and a plant-filled outdoor patio. Black Bird Bookstore features locally designed wood shelving from Woodshop, and the adjacent Trouble Coffee invites patrons to pair a good book from Blackbird with an espresso and cinnamon toast.
Dubbed Potrero Hill’s neighborhood bookstore since 1991, Christopher’s Books is delightfully old-school, having been in the same location for 25 years and taking orders by phone, email or, of course, drop-in. The bookstore offers a wide inventory of calendars, books and notebooks as well as children’s books and toys. Christopher’s Books is surviving the Amazon age with a focus on face-to-face interaction with customers. The beloved bookstore is both pet-friendly and often holds book drives for local charities.