San Francisco’s Best Bookstores

Wednesday December 7, 2016

San Francisco is a book lover’s paradise. We manage to pack dozens of independent, used, new, and specialty book stores into just 7 by 7 miles.

If you are a reader, or just someone who likes perusing the shelves looking for just the perfect something, prepare to be overwhelmed with wonderful options. There are entire bookstores dedicated to vintage children’s books, science fiction, Manga, cuisine, and modern art.

I’ve rounded up our favorites below. These are the bookstores we always tuck into if we’re nearby, and nearly always walk out with a new treasured find.






Green Apple Books — Richmond

This is your sprawling, labyrinthine used and new bookshop. It is a wonderland that still makes me gasp whenever I walk in. It is massive, so use the maps to orient yourself and hone in on a subject area. If you’re looking for a specific book, you’ll probably find it here.



City Lights Booksellers & Publishers — North Beach

Obviously our most famous bookstore and historic landmark had to make it to the list. The bookstore specializes in the arts and progressive causes. The architecture within is stunning, and you might even lose yourself in a good book while you’re there.



Kinokuniya Bookstore — Japantown

For the Japan or design obsessed person in your life. Very large and very thoughtfully laid out, with a massive selection of Manga titles. (We also like the Japanese gifts and art in the front area of the store.)


Dog Eared Books — Mission District

A great collection of used and new books, often right on the shelf next to each other. This is where we go for popular fiction titles and newly released books, and a great, well-curated collection of kids books.


Borderlands Books — Mission District

This place should be a destination for all your sci fi needs. Dark walls, leather club chairs, mysterious titles. An excellent place to find obscure science fiction books, get great recommendations, and set your geek heart on fire.


Aardvark Books — Castro

You’ll come for the cheap, used books but you’ll stay for the staff. Another neighborhood, comfortable, new and used bookshop.



Browser Books — Pacific Heights

Dave particularly has trouble walking out of here without at least three new books.  They have all the current releases you’ve been dying to read, but I’ve also been surprised to find travel and culinary books I’d been searching for. A wonderful spot on Fillmore Street strewn with antique Persian rugs and a truly friendly staff. We love this place.


Charlie’s Corner — Noe Valley

This bookshop is rather new to the neighborhood, but it’s already become a prime destination for children’s book. Yes, only children’s books. I’ve been able to find every obscure children’s book title I’ve wanted here, and the staff always knows what book I’m talking about. They also host reading times multiple times per day, so this is a destination if you have kids or just like children’s books.


Folio Books — Noe Valley

Of course, if you’re looking for something a bit more curated in Noe Valley, that also sells adult books, then Folio Books is for you. Very friendly and helpful staff (they’ll order books for you if they don’t have it in stock) and my kid is obsessed with the children’s reading area (which means more time to book hunt for me!)





Russian Hill Bookstore — Russian Hill

This has all the hallmarks of an awesome bookstore — books piled to the ceiling, and excellent collection of used and new books. But, my favorite section is the vintage children’s books in the back room. Absolutely gorgeous volumes of beloved classics and absolutely perfect for the childhood reader in your life (even if she’s currently an adult, ahem.)



Omnivore Books on Food — Noe Valley

As the name suggests, this is your destination for any books about food or drinks. Walking in feels like being transported to Ina Garten’s comfortable kitchen, where tasty titles beckon from every direction. Also check out the events page, they host world-famous chefs and authors.



SFMOMA Museum Store –SOMA

There is no better place for books on modern art, design, and architecture. While these books aren’t cheap, and aren’t used, you’ll find masterpieces here. Perfect for just-the-right present for your design aficionado. (Also a great collection of modern children’s books.)

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