More Bay Area Bookstores

Green Apple Books, City Lights Booksellers, Book Passage, and 20 more Bay Area independent bookstores we love.

bay area bookstores
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1
GREEN APPLE BOOKS
green apple books
Green Apple Books

From quirky in-store events and downloadable Zoom backgrounds to a curated fiction delivery service and Mergatroid, the apple-and-book-toting mascot out front, this legendary store oozes whimsy. Customers who wander Green Apple’s maze of new and used books will also find CDs and LPs, and even the occasional couple getting engaged. Another location exists near Golden Gate Park. San Francisco

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2
CITY LIGHTS BOOKSELLERS & PUBLISHERS
city lights booksellers and publishers
City Lights Booksellers & Publishers

Seventy years ago, poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti cofounded City Lights Booksellers, the nation’s first all-paperback bookstore. Its publishing arm brought Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems to readers in 1956, putting the Beats on the map. Locals and pilgrims still flock to the landmark flat-iron building to nestle in the iconic poetry room and read rebellious works, both old and new. San Francisco

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3
MEDICINE FOR NIGHTMARES BOOKSTORE & GALLERY
medicine for nightmares bookstore and gallery
Medicine for Nightmares Bookstore & Gallery

In November, a trio of City Lights, Dog Eared Books, and Nomadic Press veterans took over this storefront in the Mission district to create a “Curative for Colonial Nightmares.” The light-filled bookshop and gallery centers Black, Indigenous, and POC voices and favors playful shelf tags like “The Kind of Musica Your Abuelita Would Get Mad at You for Listening To.” San Francisco

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4
ISOTOPE: THE COMIC BOOK LOUNGE
isotope the comic 
book lounge
Isotope: The Comic Book Lounge

In the comics-crazy Bay Area, Isotope stands out. The shop features pop art–style red-and-white leather couches and a display of illustrated toilet seats. Located in the Hayes Valley building where disco legend Sylvester used to throw his parties, Isotope offers new comics, graphic novels, hand-bound mini-comics, and events. San Francisco

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5
OMNIVORE BOOKS ON FOOD
omnivore books on food
Omnivore Books on Food

Omnivore Books feeds a Bay Area public obsessed with food. In the bright, cozy, culinary-themed space, owner Celia Sack stocks vintage, antiquarian, and modern titles on food and drink, including local and international voices. Chefs, home cooks, and foodies can enjoy a healthy menu of author events. San Francisco

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6
MOE’S BOOKS
moe’s books
Moe’s Books

Beneath the distinctive red-and-white awning and photos immortalizing legendary radical and cofounder Moe Moskowitz, customers are now greeted by daughter and current owner Doris. Moe’s Books, called “one of America’s very best” by the New York Times, offers 200,000 new and used titles, including rare books in a room on the fourth floor. Berkeley

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7
THE COLLECTIVE OAKLAND
the collective oakland
The Collective Oakland

Anchoring a collective of Black businesses, this one-room bookshop offers a well-curated reading room with armchairs, Black art, and vintage vinyl. The tiny team that runs the Collective Oakland is taking Black literature to the people by launching book giveaways; creating partnerships with schools, hospitals, and farmers markets; and hosting Read Drink Chill events with its in-house chef and mixologist. Oakland

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8
BOOKS INC.
books inc
Books Inc.

In 1851, Bavarian immigrant Anton Roman used his gold rush riches to fund a bookselling-and-publishing venture. Despite losing one location to the 1906 earthquake, and no longer in the publishing game, Books Inc. remains the West’s oldest independent bookseller. In addition to its popular Palo Alto location, Books Inc. has nine other Bay Area stores and offers community services like Queer Teen Book Club and Bilingual Storytime. Palo Alto

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9
BOOK PASSAGE
book passage
Book Passage

For 46 years, readers, writers, and even former U.S. presidents have made Book Passage a North Bay literary destination. The spacious layout of the Corte Madera shop houses local, national, and international titles as well as gift items, a café, and a meeting area. With 800 annual author events and classes, like its Travel Writers & Photographers and Mystery Writers Conferences, Book Passage may just be “the Bay Area’s liveliest bookstore.” Check out its second outpost, located in San Francisco’s Ferry Building. Corte Madera

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10
KEPLER’S BOOKS & MAGAZINES
kepler’s books and magazines
Kepler’s Books & Magazines

Founded by peace activist Roy Kepler, this Silicon Valley bookstore was a hub for counterculture figures like Joan Baez and the Grateful Dead. Kepler’s legacy as a leader of the paperback revolution of the 1950s and ’60s has been kept alive with literary events and programs providing books for underserved local schools. Menlo Park

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11
READERS’ BOOKS
readers’ books
Readers’ Books

Community loyalty counts at this 30-year-old bookshop. Cofounder
Andy Weinberger’s wine country gem highlights fiction, cookbooks,
children’s books, and readings by local authors like Ada Limón, its first employee at age 15. “Readers’ Books will always feel like home to me,” says Limón, now a National Book Critics Circle Award–winning poet. Sonoma

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12
POINT REYES BOOKS
point reyes books
Point Reyes Books

Travel to West Marin means a hike, good food, and a visit to Point Reyes Books. Stephen Sparks and spouse Molly Parent, owners since 2017, honor the store’s environmental legacy while featuring poetry, fiction, and readings, including virtual ones. Point Reyes Station

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13
BANDUNG BOOKS
bandung books
BANDUNG BOOKS

Supported by Nomadic Press and the EastSide Arts Alliance & Cultural Center in Oakland, Bandung Books is a volunteer-run space that offers a stunning collection of new and used books by and about people of color and houses archival materials of various resistance movements, with plenty of places to sit, read, and learn. Stop by any Thursday at 8 p.m. for Holla Back!, Bandung’s weekly poetry open mic night. Oakland

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14
CHRISTOPHER’S BOOKS
christopher’s books
CHRISTOPHER’S BOOKS

What’s the secret to operating a hole-in-the-wall bookstore in 2022? Careful curation, an on-site owner, and a great landlord, according to Tee Minot, who has run Christopher’s since 1992. The shop dedicates a portion of its 650 square feet in sunny Potrero Hill to children’s and teen books, and the corner storefront has made an appearance in an iconic San Francisco movie or two. San Francisco

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15
FOREST BOOKS
alta 2022 favorite bookstore, forest books
FOREST BOOKS

In a quiet corner of Japantown, visitors will feel immediately at peace among Forest Books’ stacks of used and rare collectible titles. The store specializes in Zen philosophy, so it’s no surprise that owner Jakushu Gregory Wood hosts a weekly meditation there on Saturday mornings. “The forest awaits you. Take your ease,” reads a poem taped to one of the shelves. San Francisco

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16
RECYCLE BOOKSTORE
alta 2022 favorite bookstore, recycle bookstore
RECYCLE BOOKSTORE

This South Bay institution offers a vast inventory of used, rare, and out-of-print books. It may be best known for its cats, however, who have their own page on the store’s website and large Instagram followings. Recycle’s beloved feline Isbn, recognized by Publishers Weekly for Best Bookstore Cat Name, has relocated to the great bookstore in the sky. Recycle also operates a San Jose location. Campbell

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17
MORTI’S USED BOOK NOOK AND CAT ADOPTION LOUNGE
alta 2022 favorite bookstore, morti’s used book nook and cat adoption lounge
MORTI’S USED BOOK NOOK AND CAT ADOPTION LOUNGE

Named for a kitten that founder Tanya Reyes says changed her life, Morti’s has been home to adoptable cats since September 2021. It’s supported by donations and weekend sales of low-priced used books like John Ash cookbooks and fiction by Amy Tan. The Facebook page chronicles heartwarming interactions. Petaluma

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18
TREEHORN BOOKS
alta 2022 favorite bookstore, treehorn books
TREEHORN BOOKS

Only steps from Old Courthouse Square, Treehorn Books is a mesmerizing place to browse. It’s run by cofounder Keith Hotaling and his son, Grant, who was “born into books.” The extensive offerings include fiction, children’s books, titles by locals (Luther Burbank, Gaye LeBaron, vintage Black Sparrow Press editions), and works on art, philosophy, and World War II history. Santa Rosa

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19
LEIGH’S FAVORITE BOOKS
leigh’s books, sunnyvale, alta journal's 2022 favorite bookstores
Leigh’s Favorite Books

Nestled on historic Murphy Street in downtown Sunnyvale, Leigh’s Favorite Books arranges hardcovers in a vividly eclectic manner, with female and LGBTQ voices, immigrant narratives, diaspora fiction, and chart-toppers on prominent display. Offering a 20 percent discount on hardcover bestsellers and 50 percent on buybacks, Leigh’s seeks to make book buying affordable. Its companion shop next door, Bookasaurus, is a children’s book mecca. Sunnyvale

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20
ORINDA BOOKS
orinda books, orinda, alta journal's 2022 favorite bookstores
Orinda Books

A light and airy space with lots of room to sit down and relax, Orinda Books makes everyone feel welcome. Owner Pat Rudebusch and his staff go the extra step to find the book you need to read. You’ll never visit without engaging in a conversation, because Orinda Books fosters connections—it’s that place “where everybody knows your name.” Orinda

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21
EAST BAY BOOKSELLERS
east bay booksellers, oakland, alta journal's 2022 favorite bookstores
East Bay Booksellers

Formerly a location of Diesel, a Bookstore, East Bay Booksellers is a hip staple of Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood where you can buy new books, planners, and stationery—and have them gift wrapped. The store has a large children’s corner that feels like a secret garden, plentiful staff picks arranged on dedicated shelves, and magazines. It also supports the Prisoners Literature Project, delivering books purchased by customers for incarcerated people. Oakland

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22
MRS. DALLOWAY’S LITERARY AND GARDEN ARTS
mrs dalloway’s literary and garden arts, berkeley, alta journal's 2022 favorite bookstores
Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary and Garden Arts

Mrs. Dalloway’s is a spacious bookstore in the Elmwood neighborhood, with two rooms and several nooks that serve as thematic display spaces for a large (and prominent) gardening section, art books, titles by Virginia Woolf (whose character Clarissa Dalloway inspired the store’s name), and more. Berkeley

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23
ALIBI BOOKSHOP
alibi bookstore, vallejo, alta journal's 2022 favorite bookstores
Alibi Bookshop

Within Vallejo’s historic district, behind a green storefront, under an awning of angled wooden shingles, stands Alibi Bookshop. This literary beacon sponsors a variety of in-store book clubs (including one for young adults), coordinates to support local arts events, and operates at the center of an effort to revitalize the Vallejo business community. Alibi maintains a lively Facebook page with frequent updates. Vallejo

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