As Amazon and e-readers have wiped out bookstores across the globe, independent publishers are a vital resource for those of us who still want books carefully curated by fellow book lovers. San Francisco
has been a hub for several iconic cultural and social justice movements. This outpouring of the culture is in part due to hard-working independent publishers. Meet the independent publishers of San Francisco.
City Lights Publishers
City Lights Publishers
City Lights Booksellers was founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin as the first paperback only bookstore in the United States. City Lights Publishers was founded just two years later, beginning with the Pocket Poets Series and expanding to a wide variety of fiction, poetry, memoirs, and literary translations. Aside from its rich history as a place for revolutionary ideas and social justice, obscenity charges against City Lights garnered widespread national attention after it published the famous collection of poems Howl And Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg. Today the publisher continues to provide an alternative to mainstream media and the bookstore upholds its masthead as “A Literary Meeting Place” for the community.
City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, 261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 362 8193
City Lights Store Front | Courtesy of City Lights Booksellers and Publishers
As San Francisco’s first punk book and magazine publishing company, RE/Search became known for introducing such famous authors as J.G. Ballard, William Burroughs, Genesis P-Orridge, SPK, and Monte Cazazza. The publishing company grew from founder V.Vale’s punk magazine Search & Destroy (1977-79) and continues its dedication to black humor, along with social and artistic freedom.
Re/Search Publications, 20 Romolo Pl, #B, San Francisco, CA, USA,+ 1 415 362 1465
No Starch Press
No Starch Press
This publisher features the crème de la crème of geek entertainment. No Starch Press carefully selects unique books covering computer programming, open source technology, LEGO, hacking, science, and math and making these topics accessible and fun for all ages and experience-levels. Look out for their logo to find the amusingly animated Manga Guide to Molecular Biology, Learn to Program with Minecraft, or dive into a copy of If Hemingway Wrote Java Script.
No Starch Press, Inc., 245 8th St., San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 863 9900
McSweeney’s Books, founded by Dave Egger, began with the marvelous literary journal Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and blossomed into a publisher of fiction, non-fiction, reprints of forgotten classics, humor, series of oral histories, poetry, content for young readers, art and comics, and more. In addition, there’s the humorous site Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and bimonthly magazine, The Believer. Recently, McSweeney’s is transitioning into a nonprofit and accepts donations from the public in order to continue to produce its brilliant content. Although McSweeney’s has attracted many well-established and decorated authors, it continues to uphold its original dedication to supporting new and adventurous works.
McSweeney’s, 849 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA, USA, + 1 415 642 5609
Lavolta Press is dedicated to history lovers, reenactment enthusiasts and costume designers, providing high-quality books on historic costumes and traditions. Information overflows and you would be hard pressed to leave their site without finding what you’re looking for, whether its steps into a Victorian era dance or the needlework needed to complete the perfect civil war reenactment.
Lavolta Press, 20 Meadowbrook Dr., San Francisco, CA, USA
Mercury House has published over 140 books as a nonprofit publishing house in San Francisco with distributors in the US and UK. Its catalogue of fiction and nonfiction, which includes many translated titles, seeks to encourage an open exchange of ideas. Its books are both dignified and rule defying, including such titles as Earth Keepers: A Sourcebook on Environmental Issues by Carol Emshwiller, a translation of Sarinagara by George Sand, and the often neglected Camille Claudel by Lewis Caroll.
Mercury House, PO Box 192850 San Francisco, California 94119, USA, +1 415 626 7874
Chronicle Books is both proudly local and international, with three bookstores in San Francisco and locations overseas. Since their beginnings in San Francisco in 1967 they have put out a brilliant array of lifestyle, food and drink, pop culture, art, and children’s books. Chronicle Books’ publications include best-sellers such as the children’s series Ivy +Bean, The Worst-Case Survival Handbook, and The Beatles Anthology. The company also offers custom publishing to help leverage brand visibility and increase sales.
Chronicle Books, 680 2nd St., San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 537 4200
Chronicle Books headquarters| Courtesy of Chronicle Books
Manic D Press
Manic D Press was founded to provide a leaping off point for young writers and an alternative to large publishing companies, with a special passion for helping talented authors who have been denied due to an assigned lack of commercial viability. Manic D’s award winning and diverse collection of fiction, poetry, pop culture, music, art, narrative oriented commix, children’s, and alternative travel books are distributed all over the US, in Europe, and Canada.