The best bookstores in San Francisco
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11 of The Best Bookstores in San Francisco

The best bookstores in San Francisco are indies! Here are some great ones you should check out next time you visit.

11 of The Best Bookstores in San Francisco

by Jaylynn Korrell

the best bookstores in san Francisco

The best bookstores in San Francisco are indie!

So you’re going to San Francisco…

Say hi to Joey Gladstone for sure, but then go check out their literary scene!

The indie bookstores in the area are plentiful, unique, and impressively community focused. We had such a great time visiting. If you’re looking to get bookish in the bay area, look no further than these awesome bookstores in San Francisco.

Each of the shops on this list has something special about it. From the titles they’re showcasing to the amount of books they hold and even to the cool background stories of their owners, they make us proud to be traveling book lovers.

The only way to really get to know these bookstores is to visit them. So hop to it.

Here are some of the best bookstores in San Francisco.

1. Green Apple Books

506 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

Green Apple is one of the most beloved bookstores in San Francisco. Founded in 1967 by a 25-year-old Army vet, this shop has evolved into a San Francisco staple over the decades. It has expanded significantly from its initially 750-square-foot space to more like 5,000. That’s a lot of books!

2. City Lights Booksellers and Publishers

261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

I have so many reasons to love City Lights! Definitely one of my favorite bookstores in San Francisco, it’s got a rich literary history and you can feel it right when you walk in. It was founded in 1953 and was a hub for readers, writers, & activists. And it still is! They’re an indie publisher too, even responsible for publishing Ginsburg’s Howl & so many amazing others. It boasts the title of being the nation’s first all-paperback bookstore too!

3. The Booksmith 

1727 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

Co-owners Christin Evans and Praveen Madan take great pride in reimagining the role that indie bookstores play in their communities. They helped launch the most successful author event series in the area, Berkeley Arts & Letters, and their spacious location offers plenty of new and used books. Get ready to spend a good amount of time there!

4. Dog Eared Books

900 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

You can’t walk past this corner bookstores without being tempted to step inside. Its turquoise exterior and welcoming window display will have you walking in before you even know it.

Dog Eared Books is jam-packed with shelves of used and new books, and they specialize in off-beat, small press, and local literature. Music to our ears!

5. Folio Books

3957 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

Founded in 2013, Folio Books is a popular queer- and women-owned indie bookstore in the Noe Valley of San Francisco. Not only will you find a wide variety of new books, Folio also has an impressive selection of stationery, puzzles, and games to browse through.

6. Black Bird Bookstore

4541 Irving St. San Francisco, CA 94122 

Look forward to a meticulously curated selection of great books at Black Bird Books in San Francisco. With an aim to “reflect the diversity of experiences and interests of our community” and “broaden perspectives, deepen ideas, and bridge new connections,” Black Bird Books will draw you in with their display and then hold you in place with the thoughtfulness of their inventory. They have coffee too!

7. Omnivore Books on Food

 3885 Cesar Chavez St, San Francisco, CA 94131

Foodies rejoice! Omnivore Books caters specifically to those who love to cook (and eat!). This culinary-focused bookstore is your one-stop shop to making some of the best meals of your life.

In addition to featuring books that will make your mouth water, you can also look forward to some cool author readings, signings, and other awesome events.

8. Borderland Books

1740 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

If you’re in the market for Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, and Horror books in San Francisco, you go to Borderlands Books. These are the only books they sell which makes this specialty shop the place to go for genre lovers.

9. Fabulosa Books

489 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114

Fabulosa is an LGBTQ bookstore with a wide variety of titles to choose from, on all sorts of topics. Visitors will appreciate their colorful display of titles and the homey feel of their shop.

10. Christopher’s Books

1400 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Christopher’s Books is the exact kind of community-focused bookstore that you’d hope to find in a new city. For over 30 years in their community, they have been a welcoming space sitting right on the corner in a classic San Francisco structure. I think you’re going to love it here.

11. Bird & Beckett Books and Records

653 Chenery St, San Francisco, CA 94131

We love when books and music combine! Named after famous writer Samuel Beckett and jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, this space exudes love and respect for these monumental artists.

You can find a wide variety of books and music, while also enjoying a bit of entertainment. Bird and Beckett Books and Records schedules over 300 music and literary events per year, giving you a pretty great chance of catching a show or reading if you’re in the area.

Well, there you have it! Those are some of the best bookstores in San Francisco. Are there others? Most Definitely! Let me know which ones I missed in the comments.

About the Author

Jaylynn Korrell writes here and for

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